New Zealand, currently in the midst of a four-week lockdown in response to the Coronavirus crisis, has issued new guidance legally prohibiting couples and families from visiting each other.

A newly Health Act has replaced the ambiguous self-isolation guidance previously delivered by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. This had urged New Zealanders to restrict themselves to a “a small group of individuals who are part of your bubble”, without specifying who such individuals might be.

The new Act is much more explicit, prohibiting socialising and meeting with anyone outside your household for the duration of the lockdown. One of the very few exceptions made is for children who spend time at the home of their other parent – but only if that parent lives alone.

As a result, extended family members and anyone in a relationship with someone who lives elsewhere is legally required keep their distance until the restrictions are lifted.

To date New Zealand has experienced over 1,000 confirmed coronavirus infections but just one Corvid-19 fatality, although three people remain in intensive care.

Last month, the deputy chief medical officer here in Britain urged couples who do not cohabit to considering doing so during the lockdown.

No legal restrictions have been placed on the movement between households of UK children who periodically stay with their other parent but Family Division President Sir Andrew McFarlane urged affected families to apply sensible caution and avoid unnecessary risk while the current situation continues.

Photo of Wellington, New Zealand, by Pedro via Flickr (Creative Commons)