8 Apr 2020

NZers breaching lockdown 'more likely to be flouting the rules' - police

3:39 pm on 8 April 2020

Police have reported 76 new breaches of the lockdown rules in the past day, and say breachers are now more likely to be flouting the rules.

Police have now dealt with 367 breaches of the alert level four lockdown rules, with 45 prosecutions, 309 warnings and 13 youth referrals.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black have given their latest updates on the Covid-19 response.

Watch the latest media conference here:

Coster said police were continuing to receive a "huge number" of reports of breaches, and had received about 37,000 so far, mostly involving businesses.

He said the number of reported breaches was rising because people were more aware of their responsibilities under the lockdown.

"We have seen, over the first period, a lot of people who genuinely didn't understand, who needed to be guided and educated on the controls in place. We're now at a stage where most people do know and are doing the right thing, so the people we come across who aren't, more often are likely to be flouting the rules and therefore warrant some kind of firmer action."

Breaches included people surfing, and there were many examples of people who had been previously warned.

He said the operation of government was essential and would not comment on Simon Bridges' travel between Parliament and his home in Tauranga.

He said people intending to travel out of town for Easter should change their plans and there will be police checkpoints.

"In terms of crime, based on the trends to date, we are not forecasting any increase over the coming period."

He said there was an increase in family harm that was "statistically significant", but was not a "massive increase".

The number of police who have tested positive for Covid-19 remains at two, but about 600 police staff remain in isolation.

Coster said spitting had become an increasing risk to police, public, and health staff.

Eight police have had to self isolate after being spat at by people who said they had the virus or were showing symptoms.

He warned that people who spat on others and infected them, could be prosecuted and face up to 14 years in prison.

Stuart-Black said the State of National Emergency has been extended for a second time yesterday - for a further seven days

She said the extension of the state of emergency did not mean the lockdown would go on for longer.

For many, the past two weeks of the lockdown would have been "the longest of their life", she said.

The phone outreach programme to support people over the age of 70 living alone with no email address had made more than 11,000 calls to ask people how they were coping.

"It's really heartening to know most of our over-70s are coping in isolation.

"If you need help accessing essential goods, financial services, it's important you ask for help ... help is available from your local Civil Defence Emergency Management."

As of Monday, 7727 food parcels and 528 food vouchers had been given out by Civil Defence across the country, and reimbursements for costs were also being organised

Earlier this afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, held their daily media conference on the response to the coronavirus.

The number of confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases has decreased again, with 26 confirmed and 24 probable cases in the past 24 hours.

See all of RNZ's coverage of Covid-19

In a media conference this afternoon, the prime minister said she had cautious optimism but "now is the time to stay the course... we are only halfway through."

Dr Bloomfield said there were some promising signs but he wanted to make sure there are no community outbreaks of a small nature out there that they haven't located.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs