Northlanders going into lockdown might be looking for some respite by heading out on the ocean but Coastguard New Zealand is urging people to stay on land.

The lockdown starts at 11.59pm today . That's when the coronavirus alert level will rise to 4 because cases of Covid-19 have been identified as community transmission.

Coastguard New Zealand asked people to refrain from heading out on the water during the lockdown period to avoid putting themselves or Coastguard volunteers in harm's way.

Coastguard New Zealand CEO Callum Gillespie said the service had received calls and messages from the public asking if they were able to go out on the water during the lockdown period.


"The answer is no. Should you get into difficulty, you will quickly want help from Coastguard volunteers and staff, requiring them to leave self-isolation and come together to help you," Gillespie said.

"Please don't put yourself or others at risk, stay off the water and out of harm's way as we unite against Covid-19. As individuals, we need to recognise that our actions can have an effect on others."

Top Catch business owner Mike Burgin, of Whangārei was concerned a minority might spoil it for the majority and not take the warning seriously.

Burgin had contacted the Ministry of Health about going fishing during the lockdown period and was told it could be done as long as the rules around lockdown were adhered to.

That included observing the social distancing rules at all times, not creating a social gathering and not to interact with people outside self-isolation group.

There had been a run on bait, hooks and other fishing basics at Top Catch over the past few days with bait sold out by mid-afternoon yesterday.

However, Burgin feared some, especially younger people, were not serious about the restrictions and could spoil it for those who were.

He had told fishers to please adhere to the rules or "we will all lose the opportunity to do it if it's deemed a risk".

The Ministry of Health said although people were in lockdown, it did not mean they must remain indoors at all times.


"It's important during this period to stress that you may go for a walk/run/ride or other physical exercise, including surfing, but keep a 2m distance from other people at all times," the ministry said.

No overnight outdoor recreation of any type should be undertaken during alert level 4.

All Department of Conservation campsites and backcountry huts were closed and it was not appropriate to participate in of these activities at the present time. The Mountain Safety Council suggested people put trips on hold and select shorter, local and more suitable physical activities.

All of Government Controller John Ombler said the goal of the lockdown was to limit the spread of the virus and if people were looking for exceptions to the rule, they had missed the point of it and other New Zealanders would die.

It could also mean New Zealand stays in lockdown for longer than four weeks, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"If you hang out with that friend at a park or see that family member for lunch, you risk spreading Covid-19 and extending everyone's time in level 4."

MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis said there would be considerable disruption as a result of the lockdown and Northlanders would have to go about life differently, but the potential cost of not acting now was "just too high".

"This means we will all need to go about life very differently to help slow down the spread of Covid-19. We all have a role to play."

"We need to make sure we continue to do what New Zealanders do best, look out for one another, check in on people who may be at risk, and unite against Covid-19."

He said the serious restrictions would be in place for a minimum of four weeks to help defeat the virus.

Compliance with the lockdown will be enforced by the police and the New Zealand Defence Force. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who is on the Government's lockdown taskforce, said Kiwis could expect to see a strong police presence on the street.

He said the Defence Force had already been working with police.

The NZDF provided expertise on logistics, intelligence and operations.

"Hopefully we will never need the Defence Force but you always want to be prepared so they are quite willing, at our direction, to work alongside us while we are out in the communities," Bush said.

Authorities have the power to enforce the lockdown if they see people flouting the rules.
Bush said if necessary to maintain law and order and to keep communities safe, police had a number of powers available under the Health Act 1956, the Summary Offences Act 1981 and under the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002 to take action where appropriate.

"Our officers will still have discretion in how they deal with matters and how they are enforced and all situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis," he said.

The Government is also looking at measures to enforce quarantine on people who refuse to, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

A number of options are being considered, including those like the one established at Whangaparāoa after the mercy flight from China last month.