New Zealand enters complete lockdown

New Zealand will go into complete lockdown, except for essential services, from midnight Wednesday.

The government has raised the COVID-19 alert level from two to four – the highest level – where all businesses are to close and people are to work from home.

Schools and other educational institutions closed yesterday. The measures are in place for four weeks and may be extended.

SkyCity immediately announced that it was closing all it’s New Zealand casino and entertainment facilities in Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown. Its Auckland hotels will remain open temporarily to accommodate guests currently staying in-house.

Chief Executive Graeme Stephens said in a statement to the NZX that the company would update the market on the financial implications of the closure in New Zealand and Adelaide. “as new material information becomes available,”.

New Zealand is seeking to lock out the coronavirus and to prevent community transmission. All but two of New Zealand’s one hundred plus cases so far can be traced to travelers visiting or returning to New Zealand.

The government has also announced further assistance to businesses with wage subsidies now covering all businesses and that officials are working with banks to develop a loan guarantee scheme. The Reserve Bank is started a major program of quantitative easing to ensure that there is plenty of credit available.

SkyCity continues to have a bad time on the NZX. Its share price has now fallen to $1.30 a drop of 15 percent for the day and 69 percent down on 12 months ago. It has withdrawn its guidance for the current year.

International and domestic flights have been slashed and bars, restaurants, and cafes are closed. All indoor and outdoor events have been banned and virtually all sports, arts and entertainment fixtures has been canceled, often extending well beyond the current lockdown period of four weeks.

The country is at a standstill except in the supermarkets where the government’s announcement yesterday afternoon immediately led to large scale buying sprees in supermarkets and liquor stores, and today there are long queues outside those shops still open.

The lockdown takes effect from one minute to midnight on Wednesday evening New Zealand time, giving time for shopping to stock their shelves despite assurances that there are no shortages of food or goods.