Morning Briefing April 2: Rules flouted through first week of lockdown

It probably feels much, much longer for some, but today marks the first week of New Zealand’s nationwide lockdown.

And as that milestone in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 was ticked off, the Prime Minister had a blistering ticking off for the country’s young adults yesterday.

With reports of many Kiwis flouting the lockdown rules to attend large parties or head to the beach, Jacinda Ardern urged young people to take the matter seriously. She said those aged between 20 and 29 were “far and away” the most affected by the coronavirus so far.

"They may think [the virus] won't affect them as much, they'll be mild to moderate. [But] they are our vector for transmission. They're the ones who then pass it on.”

Ms Ardern’s self-described “little rant” came as several Dunedin surfers were escorted out of the water by police at St Clair beach yesterday.

Former New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O’Sullivan also had his own little rant in a video posted from a busy street in Kaitaia, saying, “This is not a lockdown, this is a joke.”

And with more regions around the world entering into lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19, the BBC has rounded up some of the more unusual ways countries have approached the process – including Panama, where quarantine measures include separating people by gender. 

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Case numbers 'encouraging'

New Zealand had 61 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total to 708.

Health officials said numbers continue to be encouraging, but “do not yet signal a turn-around”.

Meanwhile, Waikato DHB confirmed the number of cases linked to a St Patrick’s Day celebration at a Matamata bar now stands at 37, with more cases likely.

However there was relief in Queenstown last night as its hospital reopened following positive tests for two nurses. No new cases were reported after testing of all of the hospital’s staff. 

Questions over economic predictions

On the same day that businesses could start applying to their banks for loans under the new Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up in the wake of Covid-19, the Government faced more questions about the release of data showing the effects of the pandemic on the economy.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that the Government needed to put out “the most robust data we possibly can”, but accepted that “with the age we're living in now, we need to make that more regular”.

Meanwhile, the Government said a new monitoring group looking at price gouging during the nationwide lockdown received almost 1000 complaints in its first day. The majority of complaints were about the price of cauliflower.  

Fletcher Building proposes wage cuts

One of the country’s biggest companies, Fletcher Building, is planning wage cuts for staff not working during the lockdown.

1 NEWS was yesterday leaked a letter to staff outlining the proposal to cut the pay of 90 per cent of its workforce.

Employment lawyers have told 1 NEWS in situations like this, employers must consult before making pay cuts.

Fletcher Building says it’s engaging in “a short consultation process” and will be passing all subsidies accessed under the Government’s wage subsidy scheme on to employees.  

Roaring back into business

Meanwhile, big retailers like The Warehouse and Noel Leeming have seen a surge in business since the Government allowed essential items such as heaters, blankets and whiteware to be sold online.

However, Retail NZ told 1 NEWS there is still some confusion as to what can be sold, with retailers needing to make their own decisions about what constitutes an essential good. 

And as far as those essential goods go, the Government clarified yesterday that a cup of coffee doesn’t make the cut.

After reports some supermarket cafes were continuing to sell takeaway coffee, Prime Minister Ardern said those cafes needed to shut down. 

And weight-loss company Jenny Craig is defending its decision to continue operating during the lockdown, following public criticism from one of its own regional managers. The company maintains it’s an essential service, providing ready to cook meals and dry foods for consumption.

Chathams running low on food

A ship stocked with essential supplies left Napier Port last night for one of the only places in New Zealand still free of Covid-19 – the Chatham Islands.

The region is on lockdown like the rest of the country, however panic buying on the mainland has put pressure on the island community’s food supplies.

Five containers of food are now on their way, with no crew from the ship allowed to leave the vessel at Napier Port, so as to keep the Chathams coronavirus-free.

Other news of note this morning:

Wimbledon is the latest event to fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the tennis tournament cancelled for 2020.

Today marks the last day of Mike Bush’s tenure as Police Commissioner. While he will continue in a strategic role within the country’s coronavirus taskforce, Andrew Coster will take over as Police Commissioner from tomorrow. 

As the White House projects there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US from Covid-19, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned the pandemic is the biggest challenge the world has seen since World War II.

Former Hurricanes lock Michael Fatialofa has spoken of his career-ending spinal injury, telling 1 NEWS about his journey from not being able to feel anything from his neck down to now being able to walk unassisted. 

And heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker is again showing off his musical talents during the Covid-19 lockdown, this time enlisting a few famous faces for a rendition of Build Me Up Buttercup.  

And finally...

Source: Seven Sharp

While dogs are one of the big winners out of the nationwide lockdown, what with all the extra pats, walks and attention, it turns out you need to treat your beloved pet like a door handle.

Because as Seven Sharp discovered, pets are just another surface – and one that can’t be cleaned with hand sanitiser either. Check out their vital advice for pet owners here.