New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she and her entire cabinet will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and leadership with the country.
"We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts, and losing their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic," Ardern said Wednesday in a news conference. "Today, I can confirm that myself and government ministers and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months."
New Zealand has been proactive in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. PM Ardern ordered a shutdown of the country's borders on March 19 and announced a four-week lockdown on March 23, requiring all non-essential workers to stay at home except for grocery shopping or exercising nearby. Widespread testing programs have helped limit the spread of the infection, which accounts for 9 deaths and 1,386 infections, according to Johns Hopkinds University.
As of last week, Ardern has tightened rules for travel and shelter in place rules. Now New Zealanders returning to the country from abroad must remain in a quarantine facility for 14 days rather than sheltering at home.
"In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defense," Ardern said in a speech to the nation last Thursday.
"You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have. You have saved lives."
"But as I've said, this is going to be a marathon."