23 Apr 2020

'We need to continue to stick to the rules' - Police Commissioner

4:24 pm on 23 April 2020

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says police have dealt with 4452 breaches since the lockdown began, including 423 in the past 24 hours.

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There have been 477 prosecutions, 3844 warnings, 131 youth referrals during the level 4 lockdown.

"It's fair to say there has been more activity [by police] in recent days," Coster said.

He said the vast majority of New Zealanders had been law-abiding and had played their part during the lockdown.

But he said the public must not get complacent as the shift to alert level 3 approached.

"For the next five days we need to continue to stick to the rules.

"Over the long weekend you need to remain in your bubble, don't go to your baches."

He said police would be visible around popular beaches this weekend and would remain visible under alert level 3.

"Police enforcement activity will particularly be focused on public gatherings."

He said police recognised there needed to be a period of adjustment, but would take action against those who repeatedly breach rules.

Police were engaging with iwi over the establishment of community checkpoints and, although police didn't encourage these, they would have a small presense where these existed, so lawful movement of the public would be guaranteed.

"We understand some small and isolated communities feel more vulnerable, but we don't encourage local checkpoints."

Coster said over the course of level 4 there had been a decrease in crime in the area of assaults, road policing and theft.

Family harm incidents saw a rise in the first few days but this has dropped back to usual levels. Police had been focusing on this area, he said

Police data on mental health situations had remained the same, but Coster said that did not mean people were not suffering.

Civil Defence makes 18,000 outreach calls

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black said the $30 million announcment yesterday will provide authorities with more flexiblity to help, and increase the number of food parcels handed.

Civil Defence has made nearly 18,000 outreach calls during the lockdown, she said.

She said more than 40,000 Kiwis aged over 70 have been contacted to see how they were doing and about 1000 rough sleepers had been given accommodation.

She said migrant workers were also being looked at to see what help could be given, and about 42,000 migrants had departed New Zealand recently.

Stuart-Black said there would continue to be significant restrictions in place under level 3, "for good reasons".

"The restrictions are still strigent. We are not out of the woods yet.

"Fundamentally, every day makes a difference here."

Not sticking to the rules would undermine the work New Zealand has already done, she said.

Earlier this afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there were two new confirmed cases and one new probable case of Covid-19.

Two more people have died from the coronavirus in the past day.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also paid tribute to the work Civil Defence authorities have been carrying out during the lockdown, saying they had been working hard to make sure they were meeting needs where it existed.

"So on the ground, 16 local Civil Defence groups are doing what they do best.

"While Covid-19 may seem like a different emergency to what we've dealt with in recent years, like floods and fires, the role of Civil Defence is very much the same."