New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is standing in solidarity with workers affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
During a Wednesday news conference Ardern, 39, announced that she and other lawmakers will be taking a 20 percent pay cut for the next six months to acknowledge New Zealanders who are “reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts and losing their jobs” as a result of the pandemic, which has required numerous businesses to close and public gatherings to stop.
“We feel acutely the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing and so, too, do the people that I work with on a daily basis,” Ardern added.
She said that although the move would not affect the government’s financial standing, it was intended to show leadership.
“If there were ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” she said.
Other world leaders are taking similar actions: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced last week that he and other top government officials would take a 30 percent salary cut this year.
Ardern on Wednesday also thanked the citizens pitching in to help one another and fight the respiratory virus, from healthcare workers to the student volunteer army who are delivering groceries to older neighbors.
According to the BBC, New Zealand has been under strict stay-at-home orders since March permitting only crucial travel and exercise.
As of Wednesday there had been at least 1,386 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Zealand and nine deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Economic experts have predicted that the disruption and uncertainty created by the coronavirus — and the social distancing strategies required to slow it — could create long-term financial damage as many people upend their normal routines and spending patterns.
In America, more than 16 million people have claimed unemployment since March.
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