Health minister David Parker (Photo: Mary Melville/Getty Images)

Covid-19 live updates, May 13: Alert level two law passes; changes to rules for funerals and tangi

For all The Spinoff’s latest coverage of Covid-19 see here. Read Siouxsie Wiles’s work here. New Zealand is currently in alert level three – read The Spinoff’s giant explainer about what that means here. For official government advice, see here.

The Spinoff’s coverage of the Covid-19 outbreak is funded by The Spinoff Members. To support this work, join The Spinoff Members here.

6.30pm: The day in sum

A bill to enable the enforcement of alert level two passed its third reading in parliament and will become law by midnight, when New Zealand moves to the lower level of restrictions. The rules are summarised here.

The rule on funerals and tangihanga for alert level two was relaxed following an outcry, from a maximum of 10 attending to 50.

New Zealand recorded a second consecutive zero in the new cases of Covid-19 count.

A review of procedures at Waitākere Hospital found problems with PPE used by infected nurses.

The national state of emergency was lifted.

6.15pm: Alert level two bill passed

The law that allows alert level two to be enforced has passed its final reading. It will gain assent and become law this evening, ahead of the 11.59pm change.

In a statement, the attorney general, David Parker, defended the bill, which has been questioned by the opposition and civil liberties groups, chiefly over the powers it grants police to enter premises without a warrant. “Despite claims by some critics, the powers of the police will be narrower from midnight tonight than they have been for the past seven weeks,” Parker said.

“Police had greater powers under the Health Act and the State of National Emergency. Under this Act Police will only be able to enter private homes to break up gatherings that violate the rules on the numbers of people assembling, whereas under the previous powers they could do so for a number of reasons. At alert lebel two we still need to be careful to limit infection and to enable effective track and tracing if there is an outbreak we need to get under control.”

The act will be automatically repealed unless continued by motion of the house every 90 days.

5.05pm: Marae remain in powers of entry clause

After outcry from Māori, the minister for Māori-Crown relations Kelvin Davis announced this morning that references to marae had been removed from the Public Health Response bill, which stated that Police would be given unwarranted power of entry to “private dwellinghouses and marae” in order to police alert level two breaches. (see entry at 9.25am). The legislation has been updated to “specified private premises”.

It is worth noting, however, that the bill defines “specified private premises” as a “private dwellinghouse or marae”. The word ‘marae’ has simply been moved from one part of the bill to another. The only substantive amendment is that police must now notify the relevant marae committee before they intend to enter marae grounds. 

4.30pm: Parliament up against the clock for alert level two law

The Covid-19 Public Health Bill is currently on its second day, and third reading, in parliament. Why is it proving so controversial?

Our new political editor, Justin Giovannetti, opens his explainer: “The government is currently attempting to quickly push through legislation that provides ministers and police with sweeping powers to battle Covid-19 for years to come. The new rules will impact every New Zealander as we enter a new normal.”

Read Justin’s piece here.

3.50pm: Up to 50 people will be allowed at tangi and funerals

The health minister, David Clark, has announced changes to the rules for funerals and tangi at alert level two.

The rule from tomorrow: “Funeral directors can obtain dispensation to allow up to 50 people to attend a funeral, as long as the Ministry of Health is satisfied that a range of public health measures can consistently be met, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene and no food and drink congregations afterwards. The process will be that funeral directors register funerals with the Ministry of Health and declare that health requirements have been met.”

“We have listened,” said Clark at a press conference, to a “genuine wave of public concern”.

It was “the one exceptional circumstance”, he said, in response to a question about whether religious gatherings might more generally see a change in the rule.

“Our clusters of the virus represent a slice of Kiwi life – events where people mix and mingle – and any spread at these events could make the difference between moving forward with confidence and going backwards,” said Clark.

“I’m pleased that we have found a workable solution that that keeps people safe, while at the same time allowing more people to gather and grieve together.”

The rule as previously outlined by the prime minister meant a maximum of 10 people could attend a funeral or tangi at the same time.

Clark seemed confused on the question of whether a funeral director would be required at a marae, passing the question on to Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health.

“The protocol on the marae for the tangihanga will be with the iwi, and they will be required to abide by the guidelines, which includes the groups of 50 and the very clear public health measures in place … The feedback I got from iwi leaders when I joined their meeting by Zoom earlier today was that the marae committees are very conscious of the need to maintain the protocols and keep people safe as part of the tangihanga.”

3.30pm: End-of-year NCEA exams postponed

End-of-year exams will start 10 days later than planned because of the disruption caused by Covid-19, reports the Herald. Education minister Chris Hipkins announced the postponement from November 6 to November 16. “The wellbeing of students is a priority, and these changes recognise that disruption to learning and assessment may affect students’ ability to attain NCEA,” Hipkins said.

3.00pm: No change to OCR

The Reserve Bank (RBNZ) has held the official cash rate at a record-low 0.25%, as economists predicted, and says it will increase its bond-buying programme (quantitative easing). Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr said the RBNZ was ready to lower rates further if necessary and broaden the range of other measures to counter Covid-19’s impact.

2.45pm: Today’s Covid-19 data, charted

We have a whole bunch of fascinating new data visualisations for New Zealand’s Covid-19 cases today. Hover your cursor over for more information. Today we have 74 active cases.

2.30pm: Waitākere Hospital review finds problems with PPE used by infected nurses 

Waitematā DHB has just released its review into how three nurses from Auckland’s Waitākere Hospital contracted Covid-19 after caring for patients from the St Margaret’s rest home. Seven nurses from the hospital have now tested positive, but they were not included in the report.

Key findings of the review, which was carried out by an independent panel, include:

  • While PPE was available, “there were problems with the usability of the PPE and changes in types of PPE provided, which was stressful for staff”.
  • The decision to transfer the residents was made quickly on a Friday, and staff had a short time to plan and respond putting together a Covid-ready ward.
  • The patients required full nursing care and deteriorated relatively quickly. Consequently, nurses needed to spend long periods of time at the patients’ bedsides.
  • There was no way for nursing staff to communicate with staff outside the patients’ rooms, which increased the frequency of donning and doffing PPE.

The problems with the PPE included gowns with velcro tabs that loosened easily, creating gaps at the back; eyewear with hard plastic removable lenses that could flick when removed, which was then changed to goggles that didn’t fit some staff; and replacement N95 masks that had not been fitted to staff. Nurses were also concerned about the exposure of their hair and shoes. The full report can be found here.

2.10pm: State of emergency lifted

New Zealand has moved out of its state of national emergency status, with a “national transition period” in place ahead of alert level two, Civil Defence minister Peeni Henare has announced.
The state of national emergency was issued on March 25, with its seven-day duration extended six times.

The national transition period in place “will support a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to civil defence emergency management activities, including: providing for the conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies [and] directing people to stop any activity that may cause, or substantially contribute to the consequences of, the spread of Covid-19.”

With the emergency status lifted, enforcement of level two will depend on the legislation currently going through parliament under urgency.

1.05pm: A second day in a row of zero new cases, no deaths; tangi/funeral limit may change

New Zealand has no new cases of Covid-19 today, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has announced, and there have been no further deaths.

This means case numbers remain at 1,497, 1147 of those confirmed. Four* more people have recovered since yesterday, bringing the total to 1,402, 94% of all cases. Two people are in hospital, neither in ICU. There remain 16 significant clusters, four of which are closed.

With 5,961 tests processed yesterday, the total number of tests is now more than 200,000, amounting to more than 4% of the population, said Bloomfield. He said he understood the sense of anticipation leading into alert level two tomorrow, but reiterated that caution was still needed.

Bloomfield said the second zero result confirmed that the success of alert level four had continued into level three. But as examples overseas proved, he said, “this is a stubborn virus [and] we need to remain vigilant”.

*At the briefing, Bloomfield said 12 more people had recovered, but the correct number as per the Ministry of Health website is four (12 was yesterday’s number).

PM discussing adjustments to 10-person limit for funerals and tangi

Jacinda Ardern said she had been in discussions with church leaders, iwi leaders and funeral operators to discuss adjustments to the strict measures around attendances.

As it stands, the limit for a gathering, including funerals and tangi, is 10 people. The prime minister indicated that this may change. “We are working hard to see if we can find ways to accommodate some of the concerns that have been made,” she said. The health minister is expected to announce detail of these changes this afternoon.

Bloomfield acknowledged that the advice around tangi and funerals was “in part predicated on trying to get consistency around the group of activities that we saw as the highest risk”. He said feedback had been noted and they were working on a solution that would “address those concerns”.

‘Very tough winter’: Ardern on tomorrow’s budget

Previewing tomorrow’s budget, Ardern said it would present the picture of a “very tough winter”.

It would not be a conventional budget, she said, but “a tailored solution to a unique situation”. She added: “There is no playbook for the recovery we are about to embark on. But nor do we need one. When it has come to Covid-19 we have carved a path based on our people, our health system, and our economy. And that is exactly what we will do again, as we recover and rebuild.

“This will be a jobs budget,” said Ardern. “That means doing all we can to support people staying in their current job or moving to a new one if needed.” She offered no specifics, saying that was for the finance minister tomorrow, but a lot of focus will be on what replaces the wage subsidy.

Ardern said within the next month, a “comprehensive engagement programme” would be launched to establish “what we can do together to get the economy moving again, to rebuild in a way that makes things better before”. She said this would include the business community but would be broader too.

PPE guidance for hairdressers, beauticians etc; PM addresses Peters’ migrant workers comments, congregating rules; good news for dogs

Bloomfield said use of PPE would not be compulsory for hairdressers and similar close-contact businesses reopening tomorrow at alert level two, but he believed the hairdressing industry’s peak body had issued advice to its members that they should have masks and so on available. He confirmed it was optional, however.

Responding to a question about deputy prime minister Winston Peters’ comments this morning that migrant workers out of jobs should go home (see 9.15am update), Ardern said she believed many migrant workers wouldn’t have had the chance to make those kinds of decisions. It’s important to take a compassionate approach, she said.

In response to a question about Auckland’s Headquarters bar owner Leo Molloy planning to host a 100-person party this weekend, Ardern said this would not be allowed as no group of more than 10 could gather together. On Destiny Church’s Brian Tamaki’s plan to continue with a church service this weekend, Ardern urged him to listen to public advice.

And, in news that has delighted deputy editor Alice Neville’s dog Stanley, Bloomfield confirmed that under level two it was safe to pat dogs, as long as you wash your hands afterwards. He quipped that congregating rules applied to dogs too – no more than 10 should hang out together.

12.50pm: Daily case numbers to be announced at 1pm

On the final day of alert level three (at least for the meantime), prime minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are about to reveal the new case numbers. Will it be a second day of zero? Watch here, and follow along for updates.

12.45pm Government set to loosen 10-person limit for tangi and funeral – report

RNZ is reporting that Māori ministers are today meeting with iwi leaders to discuss the highly criticised 10-person limit alert level two will impose on funerals, tangihanga and religious services.  “It’s understood the public backlash over the restrictions hasn’t gone unnoticed and the government is responding.”

12.10pm: Cool and essential zine launches

The shock demise of Bauer last month was a kick in the teeth for magazine readers around the country, but you can’t keep good things down. First a group of editors from the folded titles launched Capsule, and now Henry Oliver, the former editor of the former Metro – which like other magazines was adjudged not to be an essential service under alert level four – has created a zine. A zine called Essential Services Zine.

It comes studded with star writers including Donna Chisholm and Tess Nichol, and it’s free to download here.

What’s it about? “It is a small affirmation of life in the face of media industry collapse. It is something where there might otherwise be nothing, action where there might otherwise be paralysis,” said Oliver. What else? “It is not a solution to the myriad problems the industry faces but is the product of a desire to make something just to make it, to do what we love doing just because we love doing it.”

11.50am: Economic experts talk tax at ERC

PwC New Zealand partner Geof Nightingale has told the Epidemic Response Committee there may need to be tax increases in the future, but “the worst thing we could do is start raising tax, or implementing new taxes, too early”.

Nightingale said a wealth tax was not a good idea, but the government would need to think about changing the way New Zealand is taxed going forward. Although a capital gains tax has been ruled out, Nightingale said the tax system has to be tilted towards capital in the future.

He said a fourth tax bracket – higher than the top bracket of 33% – would not bring in much revenue, and a better use of the government’s resources would be to restart economic growth.

Independent economist Michael Reddell criticised Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr for ruling out a negative official cash rate, which Reddell, formerly an economist at the Reserve Bank, said would help drive down the New Zealand dollar and stimulate growth. He said the government should cut tax for businesses, which would help stimulate more investment.

11.30am: Human Rights Commission ‘deeply concerned’ about bill, National launches funeral petition

The Human Rights Commission says it is “deeply concerned about the lack of scrutiny and rushed process for the Covid-19 Public Health Response Bill” that is being debated in parliament today, calling it “a great failure of our democratic process”.

“For weeks the government has known that we would be moving to alert level level two. It has not allowed enough time for careful public democratic consideration of this level two legislation. There has been no input from ordinary New Zealanders, which is deeply regrettable,” said chief human rights commissioner Paul Hunt in a press release. 

“This is a great failure of our democratic process. The new legislation, if passed in its current state, will result in sweeping police powers unseen in this country for many years.” 

The release said the bill must be amended to ensure those making decisions and exercising powers under it were acting in accordance with national and international human rights commitments and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  

Meanwhile, National has launched a petition to allow up to 100 people at funerals, weddings and places of worship under alert level two, calling the proposed 10-person limit “inhumane”. The petition can be found here.

11.20am: Government criticised over lack of consultation with iwi

Speaking to the Epidemic Response Committee this morning, Rahui Papa of the National Iwi Chairs Forum said there was a growing feeling that iwi were being undermined by the government. Calling the alert level two 10-person limit on tangi “an attack on our way of dead”, Papa said the Public Health Response Bill “smacked of discrimination”, referencing language in the bill allowing police to enter marae (which has since been amended).

Labour’s Tamati Coffey and Kiri Allan challenged his comments, pointing to a number of Covid-19 initiatives on which Māori and the government had partnered, such as iwi checkpoints and care packages. Papa responded that those checkpoints wouldn’t have gone ahead without iwi proactively leading them while MPs squabbled. Allan disagreed, saying the checkpoints were “well supported” by the government and were not an “afterthought”, as was insinuated by Papa.

Committee chair Simon Bridges asked Papa if he thought iwi “could be trusted” to follow the rules. Papa said the nannies and kaumātua ruled the marae. “We don’t need the Ministry of Health to regulate our tangi on our marae.”

In terms of the economic response, Papa said iwi had shovel-ready projects that the government should prioritise.

11.00am: A dispatch from a fired-up parliament

Our brand new political editor Justin Giovannetti has sent this report in from parliament this morning (no, he’s not there, he’s in managed isolation at the Pullman hotel, but Parliament TV is a wonderful thing).

Parliament is fired up this morning. The government is facing a strict deadline and needs to pass legislation before midnight to give it powers under level two. The opposition isn’t making it easy. Led by National, the other side of the house is using its last opportunity to try to force changes to rules that give New Zealand’s police extraordinary powers for the next two years. Bowing to pressure the government received overnight, attorney general David Parker announced early this morning that some changes are being made. Language in the legislation explicitly allowing police to enter marae without warrants is being dropped, he said. Even the government’s partners in the house said the wording made them uncomfortable.

“There has been public outrage about the inclusion of that word, feeling that marae have been targeted,” Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told the house. She added that the language reminded many of a legacy of colonialism and unjustly targeting Māori in the justice system. The attorney general nodded in agreement.

The opposition’s larger concern has been that the rules show the government doesn’t trust New Zealanders. According to Parker, the government trusts the 99% of people who have followed the rules in levels three and four, but a small group has been putting the majority at risk. “We’ve seen that irresponsible conduct from a very small minority of New Zealanders. The law has to be able to say that’s not right and here are the rules,” said Parker.

10.45am: NZ has ‘one hell of a fiscal repair job’ ahead, says economist

Economist Cameron Bagrie has told the Epidemic Response Committee the retirement age will need to be raised and the government should take on more debt to counter the economic impact of Covid-19. 

Bagrie said even at alert level one, when the economy will be operating at 95%, the economy will take a $3 billion hit each month – bigger than at the height of the GFC. He said tomorrow’s budget would be critical, saying “the numbers are going to be horrible”. Bagrie is forecasting government deficits in excess of $30 billion next year, with government debt reaching $180 billion within five years. 

He pointed out that with New Zealand’s debt level currently very low, even if $180 billion is reached it would be better than most other economies around the world. Bagrie said he would like to see the wage subsidy extended and risen to the level of the minimum wage, but said it should be a loan rather than a handout.

10.00am: Epidemic Response Committee focusing on finance and economy

Today’s sitting of the Epidemic Response Committee is about to get under way, and will be hearing from Cameron Bagrie, managing director of Bagrie Economics and a former chief economist at ANZ bank, Rahui Papa of the National Iwi Chairs Forum, PwC tax partner Geof Nightingale, independent economist Michael Reddell and Ian Harrison, principal of Tailrisk Economics. Finance minister Grant Robertson was expected to appear but withdrew this morning. You can watch all the action here:

9.25am: Alert level two bill debate continues, references to marae removed

The debate on the Public Health Response Bill is now under way in parliament. The government had planned to urgently pass all readings of the bill yesterday because it needs to be in place by 11.59pm tonight for when the country moves to alert level two, but National opposed the first and second readings last night.

Minister for Māori-crown relations Kelvin Davis said references to marae had been removed from the bill following concerns from Māori. The initial iteration of the bill said police could enter any premises, including private dwellings and marae, without a warrant.

“We’ve made the changes and listened to what Māoridom are saying,” said Davis. “It reduces the protections being afforded to marae – deleting the definitions of specified private premises, removing references to marae specifically. To be honest, it isn’t really what should have been done, but because of confusion, this is what is being done.”

9.15am: Peters says migrant workers out of jobs ‘should probably go home’

Deputy prime minister Winston Peters has said migrant workers out of jobs should probably go home because New Zealand taxpayers can’t afford to support them. Speaking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk Zb this morning, Peters said 50,000 had already done so, many via repatriation flights organised by their home countries. He questioned whether it was fair for migrant workers to be in the country beyond what their visa allowed. If they were out of work, there would be a “massive” downstream cost to New Zealand taxpayers.

8.40am: Wuhan plans to test all 11 million residents following outbreak

Health authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the Covid-19 virus first emerged in December last year, are planning to test 11 million residents after a resurgence of cases at the weekend. The plan appears to be in its early stages, reports the BBC, with all districts in Wuhan told to submit details as to how testing could be done within 10 days. Wuhan recorded six new cases over the weekend, the first since April 3. The city had begun reopening on April 8 after 11 weeks of strict lockdown.

8.30am: Dunedin follows Wellington in adoption of contact tracing app

Following Wellington’s official adoption of contact tracing app Rippl, as reported by Alex Braae on The Spinoff yesterday, Dunedin has announced it will be using the same app. John Christie, the director of Enterprise Dunedin, the city’s economic development agency, told the Otago Daily Times a few hundred licences for Rippl, developed by Wellington-based tech firms Paperkite and posBoss, had been bought for use by Dunedin businesses. Rippl keeps an anonymous private digital log of visits to venues after a QR code is scanned at the door. If there is a Covid-19 outbreak associated with that venue, a message can be sent to the relevant users’ app, which will ask them to make contact with the health authorities.

8.00am: Debate on Covid-19 bill to continue this morning

Debate on the Public Health Response Bill will continue this morning in parliament after National opposed the first and second readings last night. The government had planned to urgently pass all readings of the bill yesterday because it needs to be in place by 11.59pm tonight for when the country moves to alert level two, but National raised concerns about the speed at which it was being pushed through, and the lack of trust being afforded to New Zealanders, reports RNZ.

The committee stage of the debate and further readings of the bill, which grants extraordinary powers to both the government and police to combat Covid-19, will take place this morning, reports Stuff. The government says the bill is necessary to ensure alert level two restrictions can be enforced without relying on a national state of emergency. Until now, National had voted in favour of all the government’s Covid-19-related legislation, while disagreeing with some aspects of the response. With the support of Labour, the Greens and NZ First, the final reading of the bill is expected to pass this morning. Act, which has supported the bill thus far, may oppose its final reading if its proposed changes are not adopted, reports NZ Herald.

Speaking to RNZ’s Morning Report this morning, National leader Simon Bridges reiterated his party’s concerns with the 10-person limit alert level two restrictions will place on funerals, tangi and religious services, when the likes of rugby games cinemas and restaurants weren’t subject to such a limit. “It’s inexplicable to say it’s not OK for funerals,” Bridges said. “That’s cruel and inhumane.”

He also questioned the extraordinary powers the bill would grant to police. “Why do they need warrantless powers to go into people’s homes, to stop cars anywhere any time and to search them in a way that they haven’t had previously?” Bridges said he accepted some law change was needed but the government was “overreaching”. “I want to see more freedoms but a bill that imposes more restrictions, it seems to me, isn’t the way to do that.”

7.45am: Updates from today’s edition of The Bulletin

We’re increasingly getting a sense of the sort of budget Grant Robertson will deliver tomorrow. The country is facing an economic downturn that could end up matching the Great Depression almost 100 years ago, and Robertson has made it very clear there will be massive borrowing to fund spending, and as a result an extended period of deficits. He has also made it clear that the budget won’t be the only chance for big stimulus spending – more will be likely down the line, as needed. He has also indicated that previous plans have ended up being put “on ice”, in part because of the rapidly changing global outlook.  

Within all that, we’re going to see some very large numbers thrown around tomorrow. The pre-budget announcements continued yesterday, with about $4 billion announced over four years for district health boards. Health minister David Clark went on Newstalk ZB yesterday – he says there will be a lot of frontloading of that spending to get through the backlog of surgeries and specialist care. He also spoke about the deficits currently being experienced by DHBs, which underlined a point hammered away at by the government all throughout their term – that when they came into office they found underfunded and stretched public services.   

So the spending will be huge – but will it be transformational, or just a much bigger form of business as usual? Interest’s Jenée Tibshraeny has analysed what is coming, and suggested the latter is more likely. That’s partly because there is likely to be more spending to come, and some powder will need to be kept dry. But it’s also partly the character of Robertson himself – he really has been a relatively conservative finance minister so far. On the other hand, Robertson has been talking up the budget as a chance to “reset” on long-term issues, reports the BOP Times, so it is possible we see some radical moves.

On a related note, can we expect big changes to the tax system – either to relieve pressure on taxpayers, or to help pay for the borrowing? Terry Baucher has been analysing this for The Spinoff, and sees a lower likelihood of something massive being dropped – though there is a strong chance of incremental tax system changes, such as alterations to the abatement thresholds for low income earners. 

From the Friday files: Today’s story from the massive release of cabinet papers is one that illustrates some of the struggles facing the education sector ahead of the lockdown. The NZ Herald’s Dubby Henry and Claire Trevett report that access to technology wasn’t remotely sufficient for every student who would need it, and a massive scramble took place to start getting kids connected. The ministry also recommended that the most disadvantaged students be given first priority. 

The rules on tangihanga have been further clarified, after anger that a 10-person limit on such gatherings was unfair. Radio NZ’s Leigh-Marama McLachlan reports that rolling groups of ten will be allowed to visit at different times, in order to view the body. There is still some disappointment at the rule, both because the earlier indications were that gatherings would be limited to 100 people, and because larger numbers than ten people will be able to congregate in places like malls or movie theatres. Meanwhile, Toby Manhire has answered a full 60 essential questions about life at level two.

Foreign minister Winston Peters doesn’t believe a war of words over Taiwan joining the World Health Organisation will harm this country’s relationship with China, reports Stuff’s Thomas Manch. Peters said Taiwan had been a “standout” in the fight against Covid-19, and said he also doesn’t regret telling the ambassador to NZ that she should “listen to her masters” in Beijing. It isn’t necessarily a new position for New Zealand to take – that the WHO should include Taiwan. However, the tone both from the NZ government and around the world is very different right now. Meanwhile, the ABC reports China has banned meat products from four Australian abattoirs, in “an apparent escalation of Beijing’s trade war tactics”. 

Sometimes you read a headline that seems metaphorical, only to discover it is in fact horribly close to being literal. So it was with this piece by Newsroom’s Dileepa Fonseka, who has reported on the support (or lack thereof) given to unemployed migrant workers who found themselves stranded here for the lockdown. The headline says one such family living in a garage were given a “can of beans” – well, it wasn’t much more than that, and the food lasted them a single day. They were then told those supplies were meant to last for the entire lockdown. The political reaction to the circumstances of migrant workers has been captured in this story by the NZ Herald’s Amelia Wade, with calls to grant temporary emergency benefits to migrant workers.

For those in dry parts of the rural world, the ongoing drought is a serious concern. Writing on Farmers Weekly, Steve Wyn-Harris says that despite a brief respite of rain, the next couple of months aren’t really forecast to be much better, after an exceptionally dry start to the year. Wyn-Harris says with those issues looming into a difficult winter, farmers will need to support and look out for each other’s wellbeing.

We’ve heard a lot from the big party leaders over the last two months, so what about the rest? There’s an election coming up, so The Spinoff thought it would be useful to approach every registered party outside of parliament to ask them how they would have handled the Covid-19 pandemic, and what needs to happen next in the recovery. Their responses are here

7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

New Zealand recorded no new cases of Covid-19, and no deaths.

The house sat to debate under urgency legislation to allow the enforcement of levels one and two.

Racing minister Winston Peters unveiled a $72.5 million recovery package for the New Zealand racing industry in a pre-budget announcement at the Beehive.

In another pre-budget teaser, the Ministry of Health released a statement promising “record investment in hospitals and health services”.

The Electoral Commission revealed plans for the September election and referendums to maintain public health in the face of Covid-19.

The hard-hit tourism industry appealed for more government support during the Epidemic Response Committee hearing.

Meanwhile Jacinda Ardern announced the government will partner with industries to help redeploy some of the country’s 400,000 strong tourism workforce while the industry rebuilds.

Bunnings told 145 staff they could lose their jobs after the company proposed closing seven of its New Zealand stores.

Read more in yesterday’s live updates here.



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