The impending one month lockdown will be a "significant disruption, but it's clear the alternative will be much worse", the lead in the 'All of Government Covid-19 National Response' team said today.
Controller John Ombler gave an outline of key people in the response team to Covid-19, after the Prime Minister announced earlier the alert level is immediately rising to three, and will go up to four at 11.59pm on Wednesday March 25.
"Moving to level three, then four, will place the most significant restrictions on our people in modern history, but they are a necessary sacrifice to save lives," Ms Ardern said earlier.
The police are already working with the Defence Force, with Commissioner of Police Mike Bush saying it has been providing expertise around logistics and intelligence.
"Hopefully we'll never need the Defence Force, but you always want to be prepared," he told media today.
He said their role if needed would be working alongside police.
"We don't want to get to a stage where we need to enforce... but we will if required."
"If people don't comply, we will be looking to enforce."
Level four is put in place with a risk of sustained level of virus transmission. Contact between people is largely eliminated with the public urged to stay at home. Essential services will remain in place.
It comes after the Ministry of Health confirmed 36 new confirmed cases today, bringing the total number to 102. Two of the cases are still being investigated as suspected community transmission.
"We are going into somewhat the unknown for many if not all of us," Mr Ombler said.
Mr Ombler said the team will "manage every aspect of the Government plan to keep New Zealanders safe and well and manage sustainability of the nation".
"All of this work is urgent and we endeavour to work at pace. This issue goes way beyond a public health issue."
He said it was clear there would be "significant disruption for everyone, but it's clear the alternative is much worse".
Ms Ardern said earlier today if community transmission was to take off in the country, the number of cases will be expected to "double every five days."
"If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and tens of thousands New Zealanders will die."
Mr Ombler outlined the essential services that will continue during the lockdown.
That includes the health sector, any entity involved in the coronavirus response, public safety and national security workers, transport and logistic services, utility, communications and media, and distribution and sale of food.
Mr Ombler also advised calm over supermarket shopping.
"It's unfortunate people are not heeding the messages they're given, I hope we don't need to get to the point of needing assistance."
He said he hoped there would not need to be restrictions on supermarkets, as there had been "considerable clamour for taking this next step (up to level four)".
Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management Sarah Stuart-Black told media of the legislative powers available at level four, which can place the country into a state of national emergency.
That enables emergency management to put in place road closures or restrictions, conserving fuel and other essential supplies and prohibiting regulating traffic.