Jacinda Ardern’s government has quietly codified a “bonk ban” more than a week into New Zealand’s clampdown designed to stamp out COVID-19.
New Zealand authorities have issued new lockdown guidance that separates families and lovers who don’t live together.
In Victoria and NSW, the chief health officer intervened to prevent a similar situation, with Victoria’s top medico last week saying the state had “no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners.”
With Kiwis not even half-way through an initial four-week lockdown that may even be extended, it remains to be seen how long they’ll spend apart.
Before the lockdown, Ms Ardern asked Kiwis to “apply common sense” and shrink down their social group to “a small group of individuals who are part of your bubble … the bubble you must maintain” for the month.
That was understood largely to mean households, but the non-specific language allowed families and partners who didn’t live to see each other.
However, the issuing of a Health Act Order, replaced the unspecific order with explicit language, leaves no room for misinterpretation.
It allows for no fraternising across households with very limited exemptions; for shared custody of children, and when at least one of the partners lives alone.
The end result is the criminalisation of most relationships between Kiwis who don’t live together.
Ms Ardern has justified the decision as necessary to fight COVID-19, on the same day that New Zealand cases reached an unfortunate milestone.
The announcement of 89 fresh cases on Sunday means more than a thousand Kiwis have caught the virus during the pandemic.
New Zealand’s tough lockdown goes further than stopping partners from seeing each other, it has closed all non-essential businesses – including all restaurants and educational facilities – and provided Kiwis with very few reasons to leave their own homes.
Watching Sunday tonight Two of NZ's Top Scientists in USA said they admire NZ PM Jacinda Ardern for the way she is handling the Virus situation. NZ is so lucky to have Jacinda Ardern as PM. CONGRATULATIONS JACINDA ON THIS VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM SCIENTISTS.
— tony cabalano (@cabalano) March 29, 2020
Ms Ardern said New Zealand “had the potential to face as many as 4000 cases this weekend. We’re instead at just over 1000”.
“Going hard and going early appears to be paying off for us,” she said.
New Zealand Police have been contacted to ask how they intend to enforce the bonk ban.
Of the 1039 Kiwis to have caught the virus, 15 are in hospital, with three requiring support in intensive care units. To date, 156 people have recovered from COVID-19. One Kiwi, an elderly South Islander, has died due to coronavirus in the pandemic.