OPOTIKI schools and businesses were yesterday finalising last-minute details for a four-week town shut down.

Schools across the region were, until late yesterday, notifying families that they would be closed as they followed a Government directive to shut down all non-essential services.

Sports clubs were also emailing and posting notices on Facebook that they would be closed.

As of today, schools are shut for all children, except for children of parents providing essential services, to allow them to organise childcare.

However, the schools will be shut to everyone, including students of parents working in essential services, from midnight on Wednesday.

The shutdown is for four weeks for schools as well as non-essential services.

Schools have been preparing for a possible shutdown and last week practised and put into place plans for students to distance learn though Google Classroom.

However, the distance learning plan was disrupted when internet access was down in some parts of the Eastern Bay for most of yesterday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday afternoon that the alert level for Covid-19 had been lifted to alert level three and would increase to level four tomorrow.

New Zealand had 102 cases of Covid-19 by yesterday afternoon including one case in Rotorua and another in Tauranga.

Ms Ardern said community transmission was a possibility in New Zealand now and “staying at home is essential”.

All non-essential businesses are also required to close from Wednesday. This includes bars, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds, cafes, gyms, pools, museums, libraries, and any other place where the public congregate must close their face-to-face function.

Over the next 48 hours as we move to Level 4, takeaway services must move to close their operations.

Essential services will remain open, including police, hospitals and emergency services.

Supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations, access to essential banking services will all be available, however, the public has been urged not to go to the supermarket unless they have immediate needs.

Essential services will need to put in place alternative ways of working that ensure physical distancing of staff of two metres or use personal protective equipment.

All indoor and outdoor events are banned, and police will be used to enforce the bans if required.

The prime minister also announced the Government was freezing rent increases and the wage subsidy cap had been lifted to $9.1 billion.

Ms Arden said yesterday workplaces must over the next 48 hours implement alternative ways of working.

For students and families. the school term break will be brought forward, while students at home will still be continuing with lessons through Google Classroom.

The prime minister reiterated what self-isolation meant.

“You can leave your home for fresh air, a walk, exercise. To take your children outside. But remember the simple principle. It must be solitary. We are asking that you only spend time with those you are in self isolation with. And if you are outside, keep your distance from others. That means two metres at all times.

“This is the single most important thing we can do right now to stop further community transmission.”

Travel around New Zealand will also change.

“Over the next 48 hours, people will need to get home, be it locally or throughout the country. We have asked all air transport providers to ensure social distancing for that period.

“After 48 hours we will be moving to air travel only applying to the transport of people undertaking essential services and the transport of freight.

“Public transport will also begin to transition over the next 48 hours and will only be available for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to move essential goods.”

Ms Adern said every case of Covid-19 would continue to be traced and testing would continue.

“In the short term the number of cases will likely rise because the virus is already in our community.

“But these new measures can slow the virus down and prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and ultimately save lives.”