Covid-19 Q&As

Your questions answered on Covid-19

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Covid-19 Q&As

Commonly asked questions around Covid-19, what it means, what you can and can't do, what are essential services and the national state of emergency. 

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Covid-19 what you need to know

Council services - what's operating or cancelled?

Essential services - what are these?

Signs and symptoms of Covid-19

State of Emergency

Covid-19 what you need to know

Reporting breaches

If you have concerns about:
• a gathering of people
• a non-essential shop or service that's open
• anyone who is not self-isolating as required
• or an event that breaches the criteria
You can report it to Police online at Do not ring 105. Reports will be prioritised based on risk.

Why is this lockdown happening?

At Level 4, the aim is to stop and eradicate COVID-19. Eradicating the disease is vital to protect people’s health and ensure our health system can cope and look after New Zealanders who become sick. Staying at home is essential – it is a simple but highly effective way to constrain the virus. It will help give our healthcare system a fighting chance.  

If you don’t follow these rules, and you visit a friend’s house or see a family member for lunch, you risk spreading COVID-19 and extending everyone’s time in isolation at Level 4.  

We have a window of opportunity and we need your support to protect New Zealand and eradicate COVID-19.

The government has said it's for at least a month, but these are uncertain times. Please keep up to date on the Covid-19 website

What does Alert Level 4 mean?

 We are at Level 4 of New Zealand's 4 level Covid-19 alert system. It's likely Level 4 measures will stay in place for a number of weeks.

This will save lives. You must stay home. 

Level 4 measures include:

  • anyone not involved in essential work, needs to stay at home
  • educational facilities are now closed
  • businesses are closed, except for essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies and clinics, and lifeline utilities. 

You must reside at the same place for the duration of the time New Zealand is at Alert Level 4. Where you stayed on the evening of Wednesday 25 March is where you must remain. 

You must only be in physical contact with those you are living with.

It's likely Level 4 measures will stay in place for a number of weeks.

Remember, what you do now, will affect all of us. 

More information about what Alert Level 4 means is on the website:


What can I do to get through and support others?

New Zealand is now at Alert Level 4. Everyone must stay at home.

Think about the things that will support you and your whānau to get through the coming weeks. This could include:

  • Check in on older relatives or vulnerable people over the phone, to make sure they have everything they need
  • Offer to organise any medication repeats for vulnerable people
  • Make sure you have phone numbers for people in your community
  • Cancel social gatherings of any size
  • Only interact in person with people in your immediate household. Connect with others online or by phone to maintain connections and mental wellbeing
  • Go for a walk – but keep a two metre distance between you and anybody you meet.

We are in unprecedented times. It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions including being stressed or anxious. 

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor. 

Council services and facilities cancelled or still operating

Check Council services and facilities, that are closed, cancelled or still operating.

Can I leave my house?

You should stay at home as much as possible, except for going for a walk or picking up essentials.  

If you leave your home, keep a 2 metre distance from other people at all times.
When you return home from being in public, thoroughly wash your hands.

Stopping physical contact with people outside your household is the single most important thing we can do right now to stop further community transmission.  

Be kind. People may want to act as enforcers of others, but report any concerns to the correct authorities through

Can I use my car?

Using private vehicles for transport is allowed.

You can only travel if you’re accessing essential services or if you’re an essential worker.

You should only travel in your car with people from your household. 

Personal walks and other active travel like cycling or scootering, is fine, provided you keep a 2 metre distance from anybody outside of your household.

Stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where you can get injured or lost. It’s important the emergency services remain available to support the response to COVID19. 

Remember, any unnecessary travel may spread COVID-19.

Should I stock up on food and supplies?

No, we urge you not to stock up on goods or produce. Shop as normal so others can do the same.  

It's important that you only make necessary trips to the supermarket to limit the risk of taking the virus home.

Essential services are open at all Alert Levels. This includes supermarkets, banks, GPs, pharmacies, service stations, couriers and other important frontline service providers. 

By allowing supermarket workers the time to restock, they will have plenty of supplies to go around. Shopping as normal will allow supermarkets to manage supply and demand.

Will power and water be affected?

No. They will definitely continue.

Can someone check on an elderly person down our street?

Call 0800 653 800 and we will link the person with the right agency or organisation.

Can I visit a family member in hospital?

Visit Hauroa Tairawhiti website for visitor information

Can I go surfing, hunting, tramping and fishing during this lockdown?

In short no. Anything that could lead to you getting lost or hurting yourself and end up requiring the help of the emergency services is not allowed.

They need to be fully available to respond to COVID-19 cases. Any search and rescue operation reduces the ability of first responders to help others. 

Do your bit to help them by avoiding outdoor activities like swimming, surfing, tramping, boating, hunting, mountain biking, hiking or long drives or long runs or cycles, or any other non-essential activity where you might need to force rescue service personnel out of their own isolation, or take up valuable health service resources if you have an accident. Remember, you can’t ever guarantee that you won’t get into trouble. 

Here's the government's information on recreation and exercise and interaction with others

I have shared custody arrangements with my former partner. Can we drop our child off to each other?

The best thing everyone can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay at home. This includes parents with shared custody arrangements, and their children. The Principal Family Court Judge has released guidance for parents with shared custody arrangements.  

Generally, children in the same communities can continue to go between their joint custody homes.

Simple precautions should be taken to protect the health of parents and children. This includes parents from different households keeping a distance of more than 2 metres. 

If the families are in different towns or communities, then the children should stay in one home. Children should also stay in one home if they are feeling unwell, or if someone in their home is unwell or has been overseas in the last 14 days. This will protect the health of parents, caregivers and children. 

More information is available on the New Zealand Bar Association website:  

Can I self-isolate in a campervan?

Self-contained campervans can be used for self-isolating at Alert Level 4. You should not be in a campervan that isn’t fully self-contained.  

Anybody staying in a campervan during the self-isolation period should be aware of other health risks they may face like access to water and disposing of waste. 

People in campervans cannot travel across the country during the self-isolation period. They need to stay where they are from 11:59pm on Wednesday 25 March.

Where can people who need accommodation to self-isolate go for help?

The Temporary Accommodation Service can help provide temporary accommodation for those who need to self-isolate, and who are unable to do so in their own homes.

They can also help travellers visiting New Zealand who do not already have suitable self-isolation accommodation arranged.

There may be a cost for this accommodation. To find out more contact 0508 754 163 or visit  

How are the homeless people being supported?

Government agencies are working with a wide range of local welfare service providers.

They’re connecting with the people they usually work with to make sure they are aware of what’s happening, have a place to go, and can continue connecting with the services they rely on.

Where people are not connected with service providers or can’t be reached, Police will help to connect them with services.

Can I use the playground at my local park or school with my family unit or bubble?

No, touching or using playground equipment may spread COVID-19, therefore you must stay off all the equipment.

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Council services - what's operating or cancelled?

How can I pay my Council invoice or parking fine?

All Council services can be paid online via our website or by direct credit using online banking. Please follow instructions on the invoice about which reference to use.

I'd like to ask a question

Please email Customer Service or call 0800 653 800.

If you have a question about our essential services please email 

For questions about other essential services, please visit

I need to apply for my rates rebate

Rates rebates close 30 June 2020. You still have time after this period of self-isolation to apply. If this changes, we will let you know here.

Rates rebate webpage

Check Council services and facilities webpage

Will alcohol and health licences still be processed?

Check Council services and facilities webpage

Is kerbside rubbish and recycling still operating?

Check Council's services and facilities webpage

Are transfer stations still open?

Check Council's services and facilities webpage

What if I can't pay rates because I have lost my job due to Covid-19?

Please contact us and we'll work out an arrangement and ensure you don’t receive any penalties. Either email or phone 0800 653 800.

Is Council going to freeze rates and other charges?

We have yet to receive advice on this at a national level. Council is well aware of the stress people are under and as soon as we have guidance we will let you know.

Can funerals or tangi go ahead?

Funeral directors provide essential services and will continue working during Alert Level 4. However, gathering together for funerals and tangi is not permitted while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4. 

More information about funeral and tangi is on the website: 

Important notice about wastewater

It is important that people do not flush wet wipes. They are causing issues for the wastewater services.

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Essential services - what are these?

What are essential services?

Essential services include food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support. All of these things will continue to be available at all Alert Levels. 

More information about essential businesses is available on the website:

How can I access essential services?

You can access essential services throughout all alert levels. This could be in-person, through friends/family or via delivery to your home. 

If you're going out in public to access these services – for example the supermarket or the pharmacy – you must maintain a 2 metre distance from others. Wash your hands before and after visiting public places. 

Vulnerable people should stay at home, and ask others to pick up supplies for them.

You just need to ask them to leave these at the door, rather than come in. Drop offs at the door (rather than coming in) will protect vulnerable people from exposure to COVID-19.

I'm a business owner - can I still open?

You need to check Covid-19 website as the government is updating the page as information changes If you have any queries around essential services you can phone 0508 377 388 or email

Can I get firewood delivered?

The delivery of firewood for home heating is considered an essential service.

You can arrange to have your firewood delivered to your house.

You just need to ask them to take sensible precautions, like avoiding any physical interaction with the delivery person and keeping a distance of 2 metres. This will protect you and the delivery person from exposure to COVID-19.

Can I get a tradesperson to do essential maintenance on my house?

You can only have a tradesperson come to your house to do urgent maintenance. The work must be essential to maintaining the necessities of life, or critical to safety.

This includes electricians, plumbers and builders. For more information please visit  

Can I sell or give away fruit from my gate during the lockdown?

No you cannot.

Is NZ Post still delivering mail?

NZ Post is doing everything it can to deliver essential things such as blood, medical supplies, food and essential home items. 

All of NZ Post’s retail services including postage and bill payments are unavailable until further notice. 

More information is on the NZ Post website:

Can I go to the pharmacy for medication?

Pharmacies are an essential service and will remain open at all Alert Levels.  

If you need to go to your local pharmacy, phone them first to ensure you are able to go in-store. If you are an at-risk person you should ask someone to pick up your medicines on your behalf. If you have no other options, you may pick up your medicines yourself. 

If visiting a pharmacy in person, you must retain social distancing of two metres, and wash your hands before and after visiting.

Are family violence and sexual violence services still available?

Yes, family violence and sexual violence services are essential services and will remain available. Some services may need to be delivered in different ways.  

More information and advice about family violence and sexual violence is available on the website: 

Can funeral or tangi go ahead?

Funeral directors provide essential services and will continue working during Alert Level 4. However, gathering together for funerals and tangi is not permitted while New Zealand is at Alert Level 4.  

More information about funeral and tangi is on the website: 

Can a priest or other religious leader attend a funeral during Alert Level 4?

People who would normally perform a religious role at funerals and tangihanga, such as priests, cannot perform funerals in person during Alert Level 4. They are not on the list of essential services for Alert Level 4, and therefore should be staying at home.  

E-funerals are a way that religious leaders can continue to provide their services to grieving families during this difficult time.  

Bereaved families will find this especially difficult, but it's important that as few people as possible travel and interact with other people who are in isolation so that we can eradicate COVID-19.

Can I still get a warrant of fitness for my car if it's expired?

Only essential vehicles will be inspected and issued with a Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness.

A recently expired WOF or COF will be deemed current but drivers must still ensure their vehicle is safe to operate

Are community newspapers being delivered?

It’s important New Zealanders have ongoing access to news and information. A small number of community newspapers in communities that are hard to reach can continue. They must demonstrate they’re filling an unmet need and have health and
safety measures in place to minimise any transmission of COVID-19.

Community newspapers can only be distributed through existing mechanisms, like NZ Post or at supermarkets and dairies.
Other printed periodical and non-daily publications, such as magazines, are non-essential.
More information about community newspapers is available on the Beehive website:

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Signs and symptoms of Covid-19

What are the signs and symptoms of Covid-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza and do not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Symptoms include:

  • A high temperature (at least 38 degrees C)
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath

Difficulty breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention. 

If you have any these symptoms please contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or international +64 9 358 5453) or your doctor immediately.

Call your doctor before visiting.

How does Covid-19 spread?

Like the flu, COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person. The scientific evidence confirms that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. This means that when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.  

Droplet-spread diseases can be spread by:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact
  • contact with an object or surface with viral particles on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.  

That's why it's really important to practice good hygiene, regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands, and practice good etiquette by coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

I'm feeling stressed, who can I talk to?

If over the following days and weeks you feel you are not coping, it’s important to seek help and professional support. Your family doctor is a good starting point.

For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can also call or text the 'Need to talk?' service on 1737. This service is free, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and gives you the chance to talk it through with a trained counsellor.

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State of Emergency

What is a national state of emergency mean?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement to send New Zealand into lockdown is unprecedented in the country's history. 

A state of emergency was declared at 12.21pm on Wednesday 25 March, after the Epidemic Preparedness (Epidemic Management— COVID-19) Notice 2020 was agreed by parliament.

This invokes powers under the Health Act 1956, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the Social Security Act 2018 and the Immigration Act 2009. Some of those powers include the conservation and supply of fuel, closing of roads, prohibiting and regulating of traffic and excluding people from certain places.

How do I stay in contact with friends, whanau and my neighbours?

Try online, set up What’s App or Facebook Group, or call on the phone land line, yell over the fence … social connection is very important for us all and we need to keep an eye on the vulnerable.

I'm an essential worker. Should I wear personal protective equipment PPE?

As an essential worker you're playing a vital role in keeping New Zealand running during Alert Level 4.

You may also be wondering if you need to be using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in order to keep yourself safe during this time.
The Ministry of Health has put together some tips for while you’re at work.
These are the most effective measures to protect you and those you live with.

Can I buy whiteware or computer equipment during Alert Level 4?

Yes, the Government has announced that whiteware and computer equipment can be sold at Level 4.
This recognises the need for people to safely isolate, stay connected to one another and work or study from home.
In order to protect public safety, there are rules around how these things can be sold. For example, businesses can only take orders for essential non-food goods.
Businesses must only take orders online or by phone, and keep storefronts shut.
Goods must be delivered to people’s homes without making physical contact with the buyer. It might take some time for businesses to set-up their systems to comply with these rules.
More information is available on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website.

Why have supermarkets increased their prices?

High prices at supermarkets have been a concern for many New Zealanders. We want to ensure pricing remains fair during these times. You can now raise concerns about high prices at supermarkets. If you are concerned about prices at your local supermarket, please report these, along with a copy of your receipt to

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