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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, ministers take 20% pay cut in coronavirus solidarity

NZ’s Ardern, ministers take 20% pay cut for six months due to coronavirus impact
WATCH: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Wednesday (April 15) that she, ministers in her government, and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months amid the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she, along with other ministers, will take a 20 per cent pay cut in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cut, she said during a COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday, will last six months and is effective immediately.

Ardern, 39, stressed the importance of government’s most highly paid politicians showing “leadership and solidarity,” given that many have lost their means of income during the outbreak as restaurants, retail stores and other businesses shutter their windows.

READ MORE: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern deems Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny ‘essential workers’ during COVID-19

“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” Ardern said. “I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action.

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“Is it about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need.”

Her salary will be reduced by NZ$47,104 (approximately $39,000 in Canadian dollars), while cabinet ministers’ salaries will be cut by $26,900 and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ by $33,473, The Guardian reports.

Director-general of health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, who also spoke at the press conference, will take a pay cut, too, along with Opposition leader Simon Bridges.

Coronavirus around the world: April 14, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: April 14, 2020

Bloomfield has been responsible for leading the country’s response to the crisis.

The South Pacific country has been in lockdown since March 26. As death tolls continue to rise, no one is permitted to leave their homes except to obtain necessities and breathe in some fresh air.

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New Zealand currently has more than 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as nine deaths.

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READ MORE: ‘Relief’ — Parents finish adopting child via Zoom under coronavirus lockdown

Per The Guardian, around 1.5 million people have claimed the government’s wage subsidy to help sustain themselves through a loss of income due to the virus.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca