Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 05
Jacinda Ardern’s government has quietly introduced a ‘bonk ban’ more than a week into New Zealand’s clampdown designed to stamp out COVID-19.
New Zealand authorities issued new lockdown guidance that separates families and lovers who don’t live together.
With Kiwis not even half-way through an initial four-week lockdown that may be extended, it remains to be seen how long they’ll spend apart.
Self-isolation principles under the lockdown in New Zealand were previously vague.
Before the lockdown, Ms Ardern asked Kiwis to ‘apply common sense’ and shrink down their social group to ‘a small group of individuals who are part of your bubble … the bubble you must maintain’ for a month.
That was understood largely to mean households, but the non-specific language allowed families and partners who didn’t live to see each other.
However a Health Act Order replaced the unspecific order with explicit language – and leaves no room for misinterpretation.
Empty Lambton Quay, main shopping precinct, during the lockdown due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Wellington, New Zealand on April 3
It allows for no fraternising across households with very limited exemptions; for shared custody of children, and when at least one of the partners lives alone.
The end result is the criminalisation of most relationships between Kiwis who don’t live together.
Ms Ardern has justified the decision as necessary to fight COVID-19, on the same day that New Zealand cases climbed to over 1,000.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has closed all non-essential businesses – including all restaurants and educational facilities – and provided Kiwis with very few reasons to leave their own homes.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand ‘had the potential to face as many as 4,000 cases this weekend. We’re instead at just over 1,000’.
‘Going hard and going early appears to be paying off for us,’ she said.
Closed shops stand on an empty street during a lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus in Wellington, New Zealand, on Thursday, April 2
In Victoria, the Chief Health Officer intervened to prevent a similar situation, saying last week the state had ‘no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don’t usually reside together’.
Of the 1,039 Kiwis to have caught the virus, 15 are in hospital, with three requiring support in intensive care units.
To date, 156 people have recovered from COVID-19.
One Kiwi, an elderly South Islander, has died of coronavirus.