The Prime Minister is warning New Zealanders now is not the time to relax and undo all the good work towards stopping the spread of Covid-19 as the country waits with bated breath to learn whether it will come out of lockdown later this week.
Jacinda Ardern's comments come as a fire chief has slammed the carloads of people on the road this weekend, and a North Shore beach was filled with people strolling along the shore.
Manurewa Fire Station officer Roy Harris said he was appalled at the attitude of some people to the country's only chance to eradicate Covid-19 from New Zealand and keep their fellow citizens safe.
Harris said people appeared to have wrongly taken the alert level 3 guidelines as a sign that they could relax and "go for it".
"Motorway traffic has been much increased the last few days and, as I drove to work at my fire station this Saturday afternoon, there were many vehicles on the road, hardly any with just one person in them. A good number had three or four. This number of people in vehicles going out at 5pm on a Saturday is not about essential work, more likely about going somewhere to socialise and potentially spread the virus," he wrote in a letter to the Herald.
The fire chief hoped police were giving out fewer warnings to these people and there were more prosecutions for outright breaches of Covid-19 protocols.
Dog walkers, runners and families flocked to Takapuna Beach on Sunday morning with more than 100 people spread along the shoreline.
A member of the public said the busy beach was filled with what appeared to be nearby residents. No one was in the water, but children played at the water's edge and people stopped and spoke to each other at a distance.
The walkway - which is part of the North Shore Coastal Walkway - was busy in parts and could make staying a safe 2 metres away from people outside a bubble difficult.
Between 8pm Friday and 8pm Saturday there had been 371 lockdown breaches and about 3400 police prevention patrols.
Since lockdown began just under four weeks ago, there have been 321 prosecutions, 76 youth referrals, and about 2700 warnings issued.
A police media spokesperson said while it was too early to give any examples of behaviour at the weekend the message was still clear and that was: stay home and save lives.
Under alert level 4 people should only be on the roads if they were accessing essential services or delivering essential services.
"Police are continuing to have a visible presence in communities and on the roads right across the country and the message is unchanged, people need to stay home."
Ardern said Google location tracking data showed a huge drop in traffic in cities as well as far fewer visits to places like beaches and parks.
"I know it hasn't been easy but it has been working."
The latest data is taken from Saturday April 11 and compares data from that Saturday with the average Saturday between January 3 and February 6 this year.
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
There has been a 75 per cent drop in people visiting parks and beaches and a 59 per cent drop to workplaces, according to the data.
Ardern warned a move to alert level 3 would not be a return to pre-Covid life and was more of a "recovery room". She said New Zealand did not want to undo all the hard work.
"What eventually changes at alert level 3 is that more of the economy is able to come back on but our social lives sadly will not."
Cabinet will announce at 4pm today whether the country will move into alert level 3 on Thursday at the end of the four-week lockdown.
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