A remarkable turnaround unfolded at the High Court in Christchurch yesterday.
In a move that caught many off guard, Christchurch mosque gunman Brenton Tarrant changed his plea, admitting his guilt in murdering 51 people and attempting to murder 40 more through an act of terrorism.
Many of those hurt by his actions were unable to be in court to see him admit his crimes, due to the current nationwide lockdown, while legalities also meant they weren’t able to be given a heads up as to what was about to happen.
Reactions amongst those affected was mixed following the guilty plea.
Abdul Aziz, the hero who chased the gunman away from Linwood Islamic Centre with nothing but an Eftpos machine, said he wanted the case to go to trial “to find out more about why he did it”.
Meanwhile, Farid Ahmed, a senior member of Al Noor mosque who survived the shooting but lost his wife Husnam, is still forgiving of Tarrant, even now.
"I want to say to him that I still love him, I love him as my human brother,” Mr Ahmed told 1 NEWS yesterday.
“I want to pray for him, that he should be using his time, his life, to be a loving person, not a person with hate.”
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Eerie first day in lockdown
Meanwhile, the country fell eerily quiet yesterday as four weeks of nationwide self-isolation began in the quest to halt the spread of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said everything broadly ran as smoothly as expected, as she thanked Kiwis for staying home and frontline workers for their efforts.
Last night, police said there were some isolated incidents of people still congregating.
As detailed by Police Commissioner Mike Bush yesterday, those people were given a warning. However, police say those found persistently breaching the rules of the lockdown may face arrest and/or prosecution.
And if anybody needed more encouragement to stay at home right now, modelling released by researchers at Te Pūnaha Matatini yesterday suggests up to 80,000 Kiwis could die if the coronavirus is left unchecked.
Possible clusters of cases emerge
In revealing New Zealand’s 78 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, health officials also said they’re currently investigating several possible clusters of the virus around the country.
Those clusters include a Wellington wedding, a Hamilton rest home and an Auckland school. New Zealand’s combined total of confirmed and probable cases now sits at 283, with seven of those people currently in hospital.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also revealed calls from the healthcare sector for more personal protective equipment (PPE) were being dealt with urgently, with the release of 600,000 more masks to DHBs yesterday.
Strict new measures in effect
Each day continues to bring more new measures in the fight against Covid-19.
Stricter controls for returning Kiwi travellers came into force yesterday, with eight people quarantined for being symptomatic and another 160 quarantined in hotels and motels after their plans for self-isolating weren’t deemed suitable.
Meanwhile, new restrictions were placed on prescription medications as the Government moved to stop people from stockpiling.
From today, people will now only be able to pick up a one-month supply of most prescription medicines, with an exception made for the oral contraceptive pill.
Health officials stressed there are no problems with the medicine supply chain at the moment.
And New Zealand’s courts have had to further tighten public access during the coronavirus lockdown.
District courts and the High Court are now banning members of the public whose presence isn’t required, with supporters of people in court denied entry unless they have advance permission from the judge.
A win for workers
Sistema staff will no longer be made to work through the nationwide lockdown, after the company made a U-turn on its decision to keep running their factory.
Workers had walked off the job earlier this week after being told they would need to work through, saying they had concerns about health and safety requirements, including physical distancing.
Sistema has now committed to giving employees full paid leave for the next four weeks.
Burger King staff also had a breakthrough last night after uncertainties over their pay during the lockdown.
The fast food company has now confirmed staff will be paid at least 80 per cent of their usual wage.
Other news of note this morning:
As the world’s total number of coronavirus infections passes 500,000, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation has addressed a virtual G20 leaders’ summit, telling them they have to “come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time”.
Social services and community groups learned they’ll be getting $27 million from the Government to continue providing help to vulnerable Kiwis yesterday, as they rushed to assist groups like street sleepers and boarding house residents through the coronavirus lockdown.
South Auckland doctors say they’re “preparing for the worst” as an onslaught of coronavirus cases looms.
CNN reports Dyson, the company best known for its vacuum cleaners, has designed a new ventilator in just 10 days, with 15,000 of them being manufactured in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while New Zealand’s elderly are being encouraged to have a self-isolation buddy to get through the current lockdown, they’re also being advised against engaging in the casual sexual activity still being advertised for pensioners in some newspapers.
How are you spending your time at home during a nationwide shutdown?
If you’re Joseph Parker, you’re busy recreating Hugh Grant’s famous dance scene from Love Actually.
Why is the heavyweight boxer choosing to show off his dad dance moves, you ask? Who knows - but it might just be the content you need this morning.