Police chief Andrew Coster has warned Kiwis not to get complacent over ANZAC weekend as the country is still in lockdown and police will be out in force on the roads and in holiday hot spots.
He provided an update this afternoon along with Civil Defence Director Sarah Stuart-Black.
Coster said most New Zealanders had responded well to the lockdown. There had been more activity in recent days on the roads, but more permission had been allowed for people to start setting up their businesses for reopening at level 3.
But there had been 4452 breaches - 423 in the past 24 hours - and 477 prosecutions, 3844 warnings and 131 youth referrals. Coster said there had been more than 55,000 reports about potential breaches from the public, about 1500 in the last 24 hours.
He said there had been a 57 per cent drop in road policing callouts, a 42 per cent drop in theft and burglary and a 26 per cent drop in assaults.
There had been a temporary rise in domestic violence but that had now dropped to similar levels from last year. Suicide and mental health callouts were also at similar levels to last year.
With 400,000 more workers and more schools opening at level 3, and with looser restrictions on movement, Coster said it would be a high trust model. But police would act on clear breaches such as public gatherings, while taking a common sense approach.
He urged Kiwis to be safe over ANZAC weekend.
"This not a time for complacency.
"If you are planning to visit the beach... you need to change your plans and stay home... everyone needs to play their part."
He said police would be visible and using checkpoints to make sure travel was for essential services only. They would be in popular holiday hot spots.
Coster said they would also remain highly visible during alert level 3, and continue to take an education-first approach.
New Zealanders should read up on the alert level 3 restrictions, and police would take action for people who repeatedly breached the rules.
Reassurance checks would continue, in particular for any large gatherings.
"We will no restrict access for people moving through for legitimate purposes."
Coster said police did not encourage Covid-19 checkpoints set up by communities, and were making sure they were not preventing any lawful use of the road.
"Working in partnership with the local authority, the local Civil Defence emergency manager, local Iwi, community groups and police, we will assess whether checkpoints are needed or if there are other solutions."
If checkpoints for vulnerable communities are deemed necessary for the overall safety and wellbeing of a community, they:
• Will be operated by district police alongside community members
• Will be conducted in a safe manner, according to Police operational guidelines and practices
• Will be guided by the relevant alert level status as set out in the Government's COVID-19 response
• Will not restrict access for people moving through for legitimate purposes
"Every person in New Zealand has a right to freedom of movement, including to travel along the roading network and in any public place, and this fundamental right may only be restricted through the law," Coster said.
"We recognise that community efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 are motivated in the interests of the wider community. However, Police must protect people's fundamental right to freedom of movement around their region for legitimate purposes."
He said there should not be any need for such checkpoints at level 2.
Police drink coffee
A cafe in the Police National Headquarters in Wellington continued to sell coffee to police during the alert level 4 lockdown.
Coster said today allowing it to be open was initially based on advice that it was an essential service, but has since closed. It may re-open but only with appropriate safety measures to ensure, for example physical distancing.
Coster confirmed that he had used the cafe's services when it was open.
Stuart-Black is providing an update on the work being done to help New Zealand's most vulnerable.
• Covid-19 coronavirus: Two new Covid-19 deaths, Bloomfield apologises to family
• Covid 19 coronavirus: The brink of elimination? Number of higher risk cases down to two
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Second Southland death after woman dies at hospital
• Covid 19 coronavirus: The new data that shows how NZ got it right
Almost 7500 families, including more than 40,000 individuals, had received family support packages with household items, food and petrol vouchers.
More than 1000 people had been helped into emergency accommodation, she said.
The Government bolstered the civil defence work yesterday by giving a further $30 million for food parcels, household goods and emergency accommodation for New Zealand's most vulnerable.
Civil defence groups had distributed tens of thousands of food parcels to those in need, and the $30m extra in funding was welcome.
Stuart-Black said many New Zealanders were finding the lockdown emotionally and financially difficult, and there had been 1700 calls to the mental health line, with 17 per cent of callers showed severe distress.
The Ministry of Social Development were still recording an unprecedented number of calls.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier today that the work of civil defence teams was varied and included, for example, requisitioning property for community based assessment centres, and moving on freedom campers.
"The work that's being done by our civil defence group may be going unnoticed to the vast majority of New Zealanders while everyone is in their bubbles," Ardern said earlier today.
"But it's work that keeps people, that would otherwise be without, fed, warm and well."
Stuart-Black said migrant workers were eligible for some benefits, and additional financial support was available to those who were ineligible for such benefits.
Struggling migrant workers in Queenstown could obtain support for rent, Stuart-Black said, and welfare advice was also available.
Stuart-Black said more than 2000 travel requests had been approved on compassionate grounds. Most were related to people finishing a period of quarantine after arriving from overseas.
There were currently 2307 people arriving from overseas in managed isolation, with 104 people in strict quarantine.
Stuart-Black said that 42,901 foreign nationals had departed New Zealand during the lockdown, 27,427 people on commercial flights and 15,474 on charter flights.
Flights were due to depart in coming days for the UK and Thailand, while up to six repatriation flights into New Zealand were expected, carrying up to 1200 people from Fiji, USA, Tonga, Bangladesh, Samoa, Rarotonga, and India - with a flight from Thailand yet to be confirmed.
She thanked all five million New Zealanders for helping stop the spread of Covid-19.
Level 3 would be a relief to many, but she warned level 3 still had stringent restrictions.
Two new deaths
Earlier today Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there were three new confirmed or probable cases, but the overall number of cases remained the same as yesterday at 1451.
That was because three of yesterday's cases were from a cruise ship docked in Uruguay, and those results were being checked.
The death toll rose to 16 with two further fatalities.
A patient has died who was very unwell in the Intensive Care Unit in Dunedin hospital with Covid-19 since April 7. She was in her 60s and had underlying health conditions.
The second is the death of a resident of the Rosewood rest home in Christchurch.
The man in his 70s passed away in the hospital-level wing of the Rosewood rest home yesterday – he was not part of the group that had been transferred to Burwood Hospital.
The man had an underlying condition, and while he had tested negative for COVID-19, he was considered a probable case based on his exposure history and clinical symptoms.