New Zealand in lockdown, $330m to keep air freight going, miners exemptChristian Fernsby ▼ | March 25, 2020
As New Zealand enters the unprecedented four-week coronavirus lockdown that started at midnight, here's how the country was preparing to cope just the day before on 25 March.
Fight against the virus New Zealand coal
Topics: New Zealand air freight mine
As New Zealand goes head into isolation, confirmed cases of the coronavirus have hit 205. Fifty new cases were announced on Wednesday.
The number of cases is expected to go up, despite the lockdown, before it goes down.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made her final comments to the public before isolation kicks in, aiming to inform and reassure.
But she also had a simple message - "stay home".
"It will break the chain of transmission and it will save lives," she said.
"You are not alone, you will hear us and see us daily, as we guide New Zealand through this period. It won't always be perfect, but the principle of what we're doing is the right one."
Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced that $330 million of the funding set aside for the aviation sector will go towards ensuring air freight continues on key routes for the next six months.
"The government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand's key air freight channels remain open for high priority goods," Twyford said.
"We recognise how important it is to continue the flow of critical imports like medicine, and also support our exporters to ensure New Zealand is well-placed to respond to the recovery when it comes," he said.
Most of New Zealand's coal miners will head to work today, as usual, having won a last-ditch exemption from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The government has conceded their fuel is essential to provide energy for food factories in the South Island.
As a result, the coal industry has been told it is necessary to keep the nation fed.
The coal business has long been targeted by the government because it produces more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than most other fuels and is therefore a dangerous greenhouse gas.
But many big food processors have carried on using coal because there is no reticulated natural gas in the South Island.
Companies that burn coal include Fonterra, Synlait, and Westland Milk Products. ■