These past few weeks and especially in the last 24 hours, our nation has been coming to terms with COVID-19 and what needs to be done to protect our people.
A Level Four Alert is coming into effect right across the country tomorrow, and during this unprecedented time, I wish to impress upon every resident the severity of this situation and the necessity of following the Government's instructions.
This lockdown on non-essential services and activities has never before happened in our lifetimes, and I hope that it will never need to be revived again in the future.
But, in this time of immediate risk to our people and communities, it is a necessary measure to save lives, potentially thousands of lives. I fully support the Government's actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a serious disease, which carries severe risks particularly for the elderly, those with underlying health issues and compromised immune systems.
Please take this Level Four Alert seriously and play your part to protect - not only your own health but that of our whole community. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said, the Government is doing everything in its power to protect us, and now it is up to all of us to do what we can to protect each other.
Treat yourself as if you were infected and distance yourself from everyone you are not in isolation with. You may not be worried about the affects of being infected, but think about your loved ones who may be at more risk of the disease's symptoms.
Let's also ensure we are being kind and looking out for one another. We may be restricting physical contact, but there are still ways to keep in touch, whether that be a phone call, email, text message or Skype. Keeping in touch with our families, friends and neighbours will be hugely important to our mental health over the coming weeks.
The affect on our local economy will be very tough and my thoughts are with those who may be out of work and businesses who may seriously struggle. Financial assistance is available through the Government's economic package and you can find details about this on the covid19.govt.nz
I would also stress that essential services are continuing to operate through this time, and this includes supermarkets. Please do not stockpile items. There is plenty for everyone if we continue to shop as we would usually do. Panic buying only causes distress for those who are vulnerable and who are then unable to buy essential items for themselves.
As the Prime Minister has made clear, we will get through this together, and we must. Let's work together - every single one of us, to do right by our country and our people.