Frontline emergency services personnel are working under strict protocols to ensure they can keep working in the community but be as protected as possible from the Covid-19 virus.

Unlike many businesses, first responders in police, fire, ambulance and other agencies cannot operate remotely so stringent measures are being implemented so they can carry out their crucial work but keep to themselves and those they are helping well.

Police staff had been provided with advice on how to keep themselves safe while working in the community.

The advice included "maintaining a safe distance, and carrying out standard risk assessments".

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Police are yet to respond to further specific questions from the Herald about protocols around staff safety in the face of the pandemic.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand chief executive Rhys Jones said the organisation was committed to keeping the community safe.


"Our priority during this pandemic is to continue being able to respond to emergencies throughout the country, while keeping our people, and the community safe," he said.

"We have procedures in place for our crews if they are called out to the home of a patient with coronavirus.

"Our people have been advised to wear suitable protective clothing, safety glasses and masks when responding to any patients with viral symptoms or coughing."

Jones said maintaining adequate staffing was a priority for FENZ.

"And we have plans in place to ensure we can respond across New Zealand in the case of a pandemic," he said.

"All work-related international and non-essential domestic travel up to 31 March has been cancelled.

"Plans are in place for office-based staff to work remotely from home if needed.

"We have set up a working group with representatives from across Fire and Emergency. They are closely engaged with the National Security System watch group to ensure that we have the latest information on coronavirus across all government agencies.


"We are continuously monitoring the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health recommendations."

St John ambulance would not speak on the matter until this afternoon.

Alongside their normal frontline duties, police were also being tasked with monitoring compliance.

At the weekend Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that any person from any country, excluding the Pacific islands, was required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to the country.

People arriving at the airport were registered, and spot checks would be stepped up to ensure self-isolation compliance.

Non-compliance could result in fines for nationals and deportation for visitors.

This morning it was confirmed that two people who arrived in New Zealand from South East Asia and failed to self-isolate would be kicked out of the country.

The pair had put New Zealanders at risk and were being removed from the country, Immigration NZ said.

INZ compliance and verification general manager Stephen Vaughan said the tourists' behaviour was unacceptable.

"This kind of behaviour is completely irresponsible and will not be tolerated which is why these individuals have been made liable for deportation," he said.

Under the Health Act 1956 police have the power to assist a medical officer of health in relation to infectious diseases.

"These powers would be enforced, when required, at the request of a medical officer of health in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders," a police spokesperson said.

"They include the power to compel, enforce or ensure compliance with a requirement made by a medical officer of health, such as the requirement to self-isolate."

Police confirmed today that they had conducted compliance on a random sample of about 50 travellers who arrived in New Zealand after the restrictions came into place.

"The visits, which commenced yesterday, involved police visually sighting the individuals and asking a series of questions relating to their wellbeing while self-isolating," said a spokesperson in a statement.

"Police has made contact with 41 individuals with another three people requiring a follow up today when they could not be reached.

"Outstanding visits are scheduled to be completed today with more visits to be conducted."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / NZ Herald
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / NZ Herald

Police and the Ministry were said to be pleased with the "high level of compliance" and said most people were taking the isolation requirement seriously.

One woman posted on Twitter about police checks.

"Friends just posted on their Insta(gram) about police texting them and they thought it was a prank," said Jacqueline Paul.

"They're in isolation upon returning from the US. Police showed up to their doors.

"Good to see strict monitoring going on."

Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew and staff were also operating under rigid rules.

"Obviously as a health provider we have very strict protocols in place for any situation where our crew might be called to transport a patient suspected of being exposed to Covid-19, or where we find out a patient has been exposed subsequent to us having carried them on one of our helicopters," said Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust acting chief executive Michelle Boag.

"These protocols range from protective equipment for crew - including full body suits - through to processes to fully de-contaminate the helicopters."

Boag said the rescue chopper base was a 24/7 operation and crews simply could not operate remotely.

"Therefore we have implemented a policy of no non-essential visitors on base, for example allowing exceptions for tradesmen who are working on connectivity, or external engineers who are involved in a maintenance upgrade," she explained.

"Needless to say there is a lot of video and tele conferencing going on."

At the organisation's marketing and admin office - situated on Anzac Ave in the CBD - staff were working remotely.

"We have a policy of those who can work from home do so, and others who need to come into the office may choose to work in hours where no one else is around, for example weekends and nights," Boag said.

"We have also implemented the usual protocols around hygiene and social distancing."