Government Ministers met tonight and have provided further guidance on essential services that can continue to operate after midnight tomorrow.

MBIE Deputy Chief Executive Paul Stocks said the purpose of escalating New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level to 4 was to stop the virus in its tracks and reduce contact between people.

“That’s why we need as many businesses as possible to close their premises now if our one shot at beating the virus is to be successful,” Mr Stocks said.

“Only the businesses absolutely essential to ensure the necessities of life, like supermarkets and pharmacies, can stay open. If in doubt, the business premises should be closed.

"dairies can continue to operate but must observe strict physical distancing rules for customers.

“Dairies provide basic food items like bread and milk to people close to where they live, especially the elderly who may not be able to get to a supermarket. However, they will need to operate a strict ‘one-in-one-out’ policy and they won’t be allowed to sell food prepared on the premises.

“If any dairy breaks the rules, we will shut it down. If there is evidence of systemic abuse, we will remove them from the list of the essential services.

“Most people are able to purchase alcohol at supermarkets. On that basis, liquor stores are being treated as other non-essential retail outlets and must close. The only exception to this is Licencing Trust Areas where there is nowhere else to purchase alcohol. These stores must operate a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy.

“We are doing further work on online ordering of non-food products for home delivery to see if this type of retail can be conducted safely. We will update advice on this once further decisions are made.

“COVID-19 alert level 4 is not business as usual and means there will be significant restrictions on what New Zealanders are able to purchase. However, these changes are essential to stop the spread of the virus.

“We are ready to change the list if necessary. If we discover there are essential services that have not been made available we will react to that as we go.”