Greater visibility to engage, educate, encourage and enforce
Auckland, April 8, 2020
For people planning to go on a short holiday, visit friends, go to the beach or just drive around, there is a simple message from the New Zealand Police: Don’t.
Police Commissioner Andy Coster told a media conference this afternoon that there will be high visibility as more officials will be posted throughout the country during the Easter holiday weekend.
“We know that 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. There will be checkpoints, roadblocks and officers will be visible in our communities and on the roads to ensure that they comply with Covid-19 Alert 4 restrictions,” he said.
There have been a total of 37,000 reports of breaches, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said. Eight police staff had been spat at – which potentially constituted a charge of infecting with disease, carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Mr Coster said that people can however travel for essential purposes- for purchases at the local supermarket, superette or dairy, visit a medical centre or pharmacy or to perform an essential service as defined in the government declaration.
Breaches and punishment
“There have been 367 breaches of the provisions of the Civil Defence Emergency Management and Public Health Act, of which 76 breaches were recorded yesterday (Tuesday, April 8, 2020). There have thus far been 45 prosecutions. There have been instances of people spitting and coughing on Police officers and supermarket workers. Although the offenders are a small minority, such acts can be harmful,” he said.
Mr Coster said that the Police will follow the four ‘Es’ during the health crisis.
These are Engage (with the people spotted on roads, carparks and other open places), Educate (on the need to protect themselves and the community), Encourage (the people to go home and remain there, unless they are providing or accessing essential services) and Enforce (the various provisions of the Emergency laws.
“Enforcement means that people will be prosecuted for repeated breaches or serious offences (including spitting and coughing on people and other deliberate acts). The maximum punishment for the related offences could be imprisonment up to 14 years,” Mr Coster said.
There are signs that stress levels are high among people.
Incidents of family harm and self-harm also tend to rise, he said and asked people to use the appropriate helpline to report or seek help.
Jacinda Arden’s advice
Earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden told the media that the New Zealand Police are well resourced and ready to respond.
“Although the total number of cases is coming down, our Alert Level (4) has not changed. The Police will be enforcing the rules and the Defence Forces are also ready if their services are required. If people are moving unnecessarily, they will be stopped and if necessary, the Police will enforce the regulations. I want New Zealanders to be safe and we must navigate out of this safely,” she said.
Ms Ardern said that she expected all her Ministers and MPs to comply with the rules.
Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that the total number of cases of Covid-19 in the country has now reached 1210 including confirmed and probable cases.
“Today there are 50 new cases, made up of 26 new confirmed cases and 24 new probable cases. There are no additional deaths to report. There are now 282 reported cases which we can confirm have recovered, an increase of 41 on yesterday. Today there are 12 people in hospital,” he said.
Dr Bloomfield said that there is still a strong link to overseas travel though this is declining (41%), as well as links to confirmed cases within New Zealand (43%) including those in clusters and community transmission (2%).
“We are still investigating 14% of cases. There are still 12 significant clusters. Our three largest clusters remain the same: Matamata (62); Bluff (81); and Marist College (84). We have 64 health care workers who are confirmed or probable. The largest categories are 20 support or care workers; 17 nurses; 7 administrative related roles; 7 doctors and 3 medical students,” he said.