6 May 2020

Covid-19: What happened on 6 May

7:05 pm on 6 May 2020

The Prime Minister is hailing news that tech giant Microsoft is to establish a data centre in New Zealand as an indication of "full confidence" in our economy from international business.

From top left, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Whammy bar - a music venue struggling during due to Covid-19, Jacinda Ardern, and a visa application - Immigration NZ is today reported to be in disarray due to working from home issues.

Photo: RNZ

Jacinda Ardern welcomed the development and said it would be subject to usual regulatory process but shows "safe haven" advantage.

"International companies like Microsoft wouldn't be investing here ... if they didn't have full confidence in the NZ economy."

By tackling the virus early, New Zealand was well-positioned to rebuild our economy, she said.

Minister for government digital services Kris Faafoi also claimed that it showed New Zealand's quick and decisive action responding to Covid-19 was being recognised globally.

Ardern brought up Microsoft's plans during the daily coronavirus briefing, where Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealed there had been another death from the disease.

As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We'll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they're responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.

Two new cases

There have been two new cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand in the past 24 hours - one confirmed, one probable.

The death was from the Rosewood rest home cluster - a woman in her 60s who had been recorded as a probable case and had underlying health conditions.

There were 4772 tests processed yesterday, bringing the total to 160,700 tests. There are no new clusters and three have been closed.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

Epidemic Response Committee

The Epidemic Response Committee is to issue summonses to the Solicitor-General, the Director-General of Health, and the Police Commissioner seeking the legal advice for the lockdown.

The unprecedented move follows repeated public requests from the Opposition for this information over the past five weeks.

Committee chair and National Party leader Simon Bridges, said: "Serious concerns have also been raised by academics, lawyers and the Law Society.

"The people of New Zealand have given up their freedoms for this lockdown. We all deserve to know what the legal basis was for that," Bridges said.

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Immigration NZ disarray

A thousand immigration staff have been unable to work from home during lockdown because they had no remote working capability or secure network.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway confirmed staff had not been able to work because of a lack of secure networks.

He acknowledged criticisms of INZ's delays and lack of pandemic planning.

He said legislation would be in place by the end of next week giving the government more powers to help it make timely, fair and humanitarian decisions , but he said it would also have checks and balances.

"Immigration New Zealand's systems do need to be updated and that work is underway," he said.

"It's been under way for some time, they have been restructuring since before I became minister."

Reopening the NZ-Australia border

A new business-led group will investigate and recommend how to safely reopen the borders between Australia and New Zealand after both countries committed to introduce a "Covid-safe" travel zone as soon as it is safe.

Government officials will work closely with industry groups, including the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, which is co-ordinating a Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group.

The working group will involve about 20 experts from both sides of the Tasman who will provide recommendations for safely reopening the borders, and share this with ministers in both countries.

Meanwhile, Tasmania's Premier and New Zealand's deputy prime minister are already planning new direct flights.

Alert level 3 breaches

Workplace regulator WorkSafe has issued 11 written notices to fast food companies, asking them to ensure physical distancing and hygiene requirements under alert level three.

WorkSafe representatives visited 80 fast food outlets this week unannounced to review Covid-19 compliance, including McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Wendy's, Burger Fuel and Carl's Jr.

The 11 written notices issued were related to inappropriate physical distancing of staff and people picking up orders, and other measures not being adhered to, for example sanitising eftpos machines.

WorkSafe declined to say which companies had been issued notices.

And also today, it was revealed 10 charges have been laid in Nelson-Marlborough in relation to breaches of Covid-19 rules.

Arts and culture

New Zealand's museums and galleries have uncertain futures.

They expect the funders they rely on will divert money into health and social services and away from cultural causes, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And music venues are banding together for survival.

Forced to close during lockdown they face an uncertain future with travel restrictions, no revenue from international acts, and a public anxious about gathering in large groups.

A campaign to raise funds for venues as already raised more than $150,000 of its $500,000 goal.

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