Henare thanks New Zealand for working to support the COVID-19 response.
“As I mentioned last week, now is the time for us to stay home and be strong together as a nation – kia kah Aotearoa,” he said.
National emergency vs. Warning level
The COVID-19 Warning Level System is a separate entity for the declaration or extension of national emergencies.
The Warning Level determines the range of actions taken by the Government against the New Zealand COVID-19 outbreak. National emergencies provide people who manage access to COVID-19 responses to forces that they normally do not have, but now may need to implement and enforce these measures.
Henare and Civil Defense Emergency Management Director Sarah Stuart-Black declared a state of emergency based on the 2002 Civil Defense Emergency Law.
“National emergencies have been declared because of the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic and to ensure that the Government has the power needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact,” Stuart-Black said at the time.
This declaration allows Stuart-Black to direct and coordinate personnel, materials and other resources to ensure they can be available during a crisis.
“This also provides access to forces that are normally not available, but will be needed to support timely delivery and response to COVID-19,” he said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued an epidemic notification at the end of March, which will remain in effect for three months with ongoing reviews. The notice allows the use of various ‘special powers’ in the law to fight viruses.
Power under New Zealand’s emergency law does not require a new bill to be passed. The existence of several laws that form the country’s legislative framework already exists and was passed.
Every week, Stuart-Black will give Henare advice on whether a national emergency should be extended. The decision takes into account the current Warning Level, which has remained at Level 4 since 11:59 p.m. on March 25.
As of Tuesday, 1,160 people had contracted COVID-19 in New Zealand. There was one virus-related death, a West Coast woman in her 70s who was initially diagnosed with influenza, complicated by underlying health conditions.