Lockdown breaches almost at 500 as people continue to ignore rules

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Apr 2020, 3:31PM
Police in Gisborne go to speak to surfers breaking lockdown rules. Photo / Gisborne Herald
Police in Gisborne go to speak to surfers breaking lockdown rules. Photo / Gisborne Herald

Lockdown breaches almost at 500 as people continue to ignore rules

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Apr 2020, 3:31PM

Almost 500 people have been caught out breaching the national lockdown so far.

And that number could climb over the long weekend as police ramp up efforts to catch those flouting the rules.

As of today there have been 582 breaches of the Civil Defence Emergency Act or the Health Act.

Of that number, there have been 331 breaches recorded under the CDEM Act, and 151 under the Health Act.

In total 61 people have been prosecuted, 407 officially warned and 14 young people referred to Youth Aid.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the nationwide lockdown on Monday March 23 in response to the ongoing spread of Covid-19.

The lockdown came into effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday March 25 and is in place for at least four weeks.

Under the lockdown rules everyone must stay home - apart from people considered part of the "essential services central workforce".

Authorities, including police, have the power to stop people out and about and ask them why they are not at their home.

If necessary people can be arrested and charged.

From the outset police have taken an "education and encouragement" approach to the enforcement of the lockdown restrictions.

But some people were simply ignoring the rules.

Police in Gisborne go to speak to surfers breaking lockdown rules. Photo / Gisborne Herald Police in Gisborne go to speak to surfers breaking lockdown rules. Photo / Gisborne Herald

After being warned "numerous times" a 44-year-old Dunedin man was arrested and charges.

The man had entered a Dunedin house he was not supposed to be in, and refused to leave.

He was charged with breaching the restrictions of the lockdown.

Two people appeared in court earlier this week charged with breaching the lockdown rules in Wellington.

The man and woman, who don't appear to be connected to each other, were each separately charged with failing to comply with the direction of a medical officer of health, namely to "self isolate".

The maximum sentence for the charge is six months' imprisonment and a fine of $4000.

Nathan Manu Murphy, 29, was arrested last night after having previously been warned and educated on the alert level 4 restrictions, a police spokeswoman said.

A 49-year-old woman, who has interim name suppression, was also arrested.

"The woman had previously been warned and educated on the alert level 4 restrictions. This morning she was in a vehicle and seen to be acting suspiciously on this basis she was spoken to and arrested," a police spokeswoman said.

The number of people caught flouting the rules could rise as police escalate their monitoring of traffic over the Easter long weekend.

Taupō police run a checkpoint. Photo / Taupō and Turangi WeekenderTaupō police run a checkpoint. Photo / Taupō and Turangi Weekender

Checkpoints are being set up across the country and drivers being stopped in massive numbers with officers questioning where they are headed.

Kiwis have been repeatedly warned to stay home this weekend and not travel to baches or other destinations.

"Travelling to and from different towns and cities risks spreading Covid-19, and puts lives at risk," a police spokesperson said.

"Travelling to the bach for a holiday is not essential travel and it is not permitted."

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said checkpoints could be expected along popular holiday traffic routes.

Coster said the measures would help ensure people were aware of lockdown requirements - that if you were not out for an "essential" purpose, then you should be at home.

"We know many New Zealanders may have been planning to catch up with friends and family this weekend or travel to traditional holiday destinations, but we urge anyone who was planning to do this - please change your plans and stay home," he said.

"To help ensure people know about the Health Act restrictions, police will be out and about checking that people are travelling for essential purposes only."

Such purposes include if you are heading out to get food items, medical supplies, for medical appointments, or if you are an essential worker.

 Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website