New lockdown law officially bans swimming, hunting, surfing

Ben Leahy, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 5 Apr 2020, 12:14am
Police patrol Auckland's Tamaki Drive on day 10 of the lockdown. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Police patrol Auckland's Tamaki Drive on day 10 of the lockdown. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

New lockdown law officially bans swimming, hunting, surfing

Ben Leahy, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 5 Apr 2020, 12:14am

There is now no doubt - fishing, swimming, surfing, hunting and tramping are banned under new lockdown laws.

Kiwis had previously been advised not to take part in these activities during the Covid-19 lockdown but the ban was made official in fresh laws released on the Government's Covid-19 website today.

People cannot leave home to hunt, tramp, swim, take part in other water-based activities, such as surfing and boating, or do anything that may put them in danger or require help from rescue services.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the issuing of the Health Notice was to ensure its success and help move the country out of lockdown as soon as possible.

The notice sets out:
 Everyone in New Zealand is to be isolated or quarantined at their current place of residence except as permitted for essential personal movement

  • Exercise is to be done in an outdoor place that can be readily accessed from home and two-metre physical distancing must be maintained
  • Recreation and exercise does not involve swimming, water-based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping, or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services
  • A child can leave the residence of one joint care-giver to visit or stay at the residence of another joint care-giver (and visit or stay at that residence) if there is a shared bubble arrangement
  • A person can leave their residence to visit or stay at another residence (and visit or stay at that residence) under a shared bubble arrangement if:
  • One person lives alone in one, or both, of those residences; or
  • Everyone in one of those residences is a vulnerable person.

"In the first week of being at Alert Level 4 we have seen high rates of compliance," Bloomfield said.

"The best way to ensure the success of the lockdown is for everyone to play their part.

"That means staying at home, maintaining physical distancing when outdoors and washing your hands."

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster welcomed the guidance and said police's primary goal was to ensure people understood the importance of staying home.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders have a high level of awareness of what they can and can't do under the Alert Level 4 restrictions, and by and large people are doing a tremendous job," he said.

"We want people to stay safe, but if a small number of people persist in deliberately flouting the restrictions, police will have the discretion to warn or, if necessary, to arrest.

"The Health Notice makes it clear what types of outdoor exercise and recreation people shouldn't do.

"Outside of that, we are asking people to stay local, apply common sense and not do anything that could risk exposure to injury or require search and rescue services. "

Coster said the public should not notice any "significant change to policing as we continue to prioritise high visibility reassurance to the community, and a continued focus on day-to-day police work".

"I have recently set a clear expectation of our staff on how we police in the current environment. We have today updated our operational guidelines to staff, to help them police with confidence and certainty," he said.

Bloomfield stressed that "no one" was immune to the virus; adding younger generations needed to realise they were at risk.

"We are seeing high rates of people aged 20-29 with the virus," he said.

"These people may not die of it, but if they are not following the rules they can pass it on to others.

"By clarifying the rules we are also reinforcing the ability of police to enforce them. No one likes a rule breaker, especially when breaking the rules puts other New Zealanders' lives at risk."

He added police now had "all the powers they need" to make sure those not following the rules were "dealt with".

"We've started well but now is not the time to be complacent."

The Game Animal Council said it had given "consistent guidance" against hunting - and many other recreational activities - during the Level 4 lockdown.

That guidance had now been reinforced by a Government Order.
"This is enforceable," council general manager Tim Gale said.

"Under this order, the police [can] do anything reasonably necessary to enforce compliance, including using the power of arrest."

He said most hunters were doing their bit to fight Covid-19 and had complied with the guidance not to hunt, despite it being "frustrating to stay at home during the roar".

"For those people selfishly flouting the rules, this should be a wake-up call. It is time to do the right thing and stay at home," Gale said.