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Visitors barred from Gisborne rest home: Govt asks over 70s to self-isolate to slow Covid-19 outbreak

Visitors will temporarily be barred from Leighton House rest home in Gisborne this weekend, after the government increased efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak.

Those restrictions included asking those over 70 or with underlying health conditions to self-isolate.

"We have decided to temporarily close our home over the weekend to visitors," Leighton House director Andrew Sheard said in a statement shortly after a television address from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"We acknowledge the importance of visits for our residents and their loved ones. Closing our doors is not a step we take lightly. However, preventing the spread of Covid-19 has to take priority," he said.

Further advice for visitors around a new process around visits would be available on Monday.

Ryman Healthcare spokesman David King said visitor restrictions, including compulsory temperature checks and positing a security guard on the gates had already been in place at the Kiri Te Kanawa retirement village but it would now step up additional support services for independent residents.

"We're trying to think of everything we can to keep residents connected while meeting the government requirements."

Village centres would perform the role of "mother ship" to provide support.

"Residents can call us there for anything they need."

New Zealand has been moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2, Reduce Contact, in an escalation of efforts to reduce the spread of the virus in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced earlier today.

“Today I am announcing a four stage COVID-19 Alert Level system, with escalating restrictions on human contact, travel and business operations.

“Based on expert medical advice and international evidence I am moving New Zealand to Alert Level 2, Reduce Contact. This will have a significant disruption on how we go about our daily lives, but it is necessary to protect lives.

“People over 70 years of age, or people who are immunocompromised or have certain pre-existing conditions, need to stay at home as much as they can from now on.

“I’m asking everyone to support our older New Zealanders by doing things like keeping in contact with them and dropping off food or other supplies.

“I am also asking businesses and workplaces to play their part. Many workplaces already have plans for staff to work from home or to distance themselves in the workplace. We are now asking you to put those plans in place.

“Health and emergency professionals, transport and delivery staff, supermarket and food production workers, and other essential people will be continuing on at their place of work at this alert level.

“It’s also important to note that at every alert level supermarkets around New Zealand will remain open.

“We are also asking New Zealanders to limit all non-essential domestic travel. We need people to significantly reduce the number of interactions they have at this time and that includes visiting people in different parts of the country for non-essential reasons.

“These measures are being taken in the national interest. We know people, business, and sports events will be impacted, but these are short-term disruptions for the overall health of our people and country.

“I know many New Zealanders are anxious. The alert system is designed to offer certainty around future action and the ability for people to plan and prepare for any future eventuality. Please be strong, be kind, and unite against COVID-19."

STEPPING UP: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talking to the nation during a live television address. Picture supplied