New Zealanders warned to 'act like you have Covid-19' during nationwide lockdown

New Zealanders need to take the nationwide lockdown seriously and stay away from friends and public areas, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warns.

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New Zealanders are urged to take the Alert Level 4 lockdown seriously to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Under the Alert Level 4 lockdown, which comes into effect at 11.59pm tonight, non-essential businesses are shut down and people need to stay home.

That means no trips to the local playground with your children, Ms Ardern said in an address today.

"We want people to stay home. If people are going outside, avoid any contact with those public spaces," she says.

"We accept that people will want to get some fresh air and to stretch their legs, but any common space they move to, a surface their child touches at a playground, presents risk. No playgrounds. [People should be] sticking to those essential services they need to outside of their homes."

If you're at all unsure about what you can and can't do, Ms Ardern says people should "apply a simple principle".

"Act like you have Covid-19," she says.

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"It will help guide your decisions and help you think about the way you engage with other people."

Today another 50 New Zealanders were diagnosed with the contagious the virus, taking the total number of cases to 205.

While most of the cases are linked to overseas travel, at least four are being treated as community transmission - where there's no direct link or source.

It's okay for people to go for a short walk around the block during the lockdown, but they'll also need to follow strict guidelines.

"There is nothing wrong with someone getting that fresh air... We expect and accept people will go for a walk, but if you pass people, keep your distance. Don't talk to others. Stay in your bubble," Ms Ardern says.

To "stay in your bubble", don't go catch up with friends or hang out with someone outside your household.

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The restrictions will be in place for the next four weeks.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and dairies are all classified as "essential businesses" and will remain open as normal during the lockdown, although people are asked to only send one person from their household and maintain a 2-metre distance from others to prevent the spread of the virus.