“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.”
She added that the pay cut will not affect her government’s fiscal policies, but is intended to show leadership that her cabinet has taken.
New Zealand has been praised for its response to the outbreak. Ardern shut the country’s borders to foreign visitors 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.
The country has carried out widespread testing and recorded 1,386 coronavirus cases and nine deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
But Ardern said last week she was tightening border restrictions, meaning all New Zealanders who arrive in the country will be required to spend two weeks quarantined in an approved facility, rather than self-isolating at home.
New Zealand is only halfway through its lockdown, and she has said it won’t end early.
“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.”