27 Mar 2020

What it means to break Covid-19 lockdown rules

7:08 pm on 27 March 2020

As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We'll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they're responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.

As people settle into a new way of life in their Covid-19 lockdown bubble it is clear not everyone is following the rules.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Between 11pm Thursday night and 8am Friday morning police received 396 calls relating to Covid-19 and 279 related to self-isolation breaches.

Under lockdown, the government's message is clear - stay at home and if you leave your house to buy food or exercise keep 2 metres away from anyone you see - but not everyone is exercising care.

One Whanganui woman, who didn't want to be named, said she saw some concerning behaviour during a short trip to her local pharmacy to pick up prescription medication.

"I noticed groups of families down at the local school running around and so on. Are people taking this lockdown seriously?

She said the streets were deserted - a clear message to anyone behaving normally that the country was in lockdown.

Hamish Oliver in Christchurch said not everyone in his South Island community was policing themselves and people were searching for exceptions to the rule - some in his neighbourhood had been arranging 'drinks on the driveway'.

Civil Defence Emergency Management director Sarah Stuart-Black said police were reporting that people were generally doing the right thing but people must be thinking about how them staying home could make a difference.

"There were some isolated incidents reports of people congregating, these people were spoken to and provided with some advice about what the restrictions mean."

Stuart-Black said she was under no illusions the restrictions were a dramatic and sudden shift in people's way of life but staying at home was the best way to break the chain.

She said people should think twice about whether they needed to drive to locations for exercise.

"I think the key message is 'stay local'. If you can go for a walk by going right outside your front door, great, if you have to drive a short distance, that's fine too, the challenge we have is when people might drive themselves to a place that if they get into trouble, someone else might have to come and help them which exposes more risk."

She said the same applied to people who fancied a surf or swim - people must avoid activities that could put others at risk.

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Those over 70 or immunocompromised are encouraged to leave the house for exercise but should follow social distancing like everyone else.

Overall, the advice is simple: stay home, and if you leave your house: stay local.

Act like you have Covid-19 and stick to your bubble - staying 2 metres away from those outside it when you do step outside to exercise.

Common questions being raised

If I wanted to visit the beach this weekend could I?

Yes, if you could walk there you can. Otherwise no, you'll have to find something else to do.

Can I kick a ball around at my local park with people in my bubble? For how long?

No, you cannot. Do it in your own backyard or in the house.

Can I drive to a forest track for a hike if no one else is there?

Again this is a no. If you went for a bushwalk and got into trouble, emergency services would likely be called out and then you will have popped their bubble. Also, DOC facilities are all closed so overnight tramps are also off-limits.

Can I go surfing?

No, and you can't go kayaking or boating either. Again, if you get into trouble, then you risk popping the bubble of people working in essential services like the coastguard.

Can I do gardening?

If it is your own garden, go for gold. But you can't go to the plant shop, so you will need to get creative with what you've got at home.

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