Police have passed a significant point in Covid-19 lockdown management by not having to close down any Saturday night parties which might have been expected to flourish with the shutting of licensed premises.

Police Eastern District Covid-19 Management Centre head Inspector Dean Clifford said that with bars closed "it was a different Saturday night environment to what we are used to – licensed premises weren't a factor."

There were no gatherings that had to be policed, but police did deal with "the normal things like family harm" and other incidents.

Staff had noted the "quiet level of activity", he said, but added: "We are going to have to adjust to what's in front of us week by week, and there will be changes over the coming weeks."


He said the circumstances of the lockdown were new to everybody, and police were still in the phase of educating and encouraging people to keep to the rules set out by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she announced the stay-home lockdown which took effect at 11.59pm last Wednesday.

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

Clifford would not be drawn on whether attitudes to the lockdown varied from community to community, with what some believed was a relatively relaxed attitude in Havelock North.

Police had discussed the issue of making sure the messages were shared across "our neighbourhoods".

"Our visibility will be across the neighbourhoods so there is a consistent approach, so that we can engage with all communities," he said. "If there are difficulties arising we can explain the responsibilities to those communities."

But he said police were receiving many calls about breaches or perceived breaches, and most involved interpretations about what people could or couldn't do.

The number of calls nationally – Ardern said there had been more than 2000 nationally within 24 hours – led to police establishing online reporting to take the pressure off emergency numbers.

Even that system – 105.police.govt.nz – was reported under pressure just an hour after it went live on Sunday, but Clifford said it would give police the chance to assess the information and if necessary call on those seen to be transgressing to explain the rules and ensure the continued public safety.


Police are facing some challenges with more regular types of events, but Clifford assured that offences would be dealt with and people would not be escaping apprehension and prosecution simply because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

Arrested people held in custody overnight are still being taken to court the next day for decisions to be made on whether they will be released on bail, but the Covid-19 restrictions had added "another layer" to that process, he said.