Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the military will be called on if needed to ensure the public follow the Government restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bush will lead the Government's operational response to Covid-19.

He told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking his role included heading an operational command centre and structures and working with chief executives to assign roles and responsibilities.

Bush said he would work with the health sector and there could also be need from Civil Defence.


As for panic buying, and would the police or army end up involved, he said: "I could very shortly see a place where the police, hopefully not the defence, complimenting what we do to ensure that people do comply with what we do.

Coronavirus Death toll surges in Italy as hospitals struggle to cope. Video / NBC

"People need to be respectful. This is about keeping people alive."

Bush was focused on keeping the country safe, he said.

The new operational centre will be based in Wellington's Lambton Quay at the evidence based policing centre.

It can house 70 officials and will be operational on Monday.

Other pillars of the response will remain at the Ministry of Health.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a new emergency alert level system for New Zealand, from 1 to 4.


The country was currently on alert level 2 which meant that Covid-19 was "contained but risk of community transmission growing" and human contact must be further reduced - over-70s have been told to stay at home and everyone needs to limit domestic travel.

Raising the alert level to 4 would mean full lockdown of all non-essential businesses, rationing supplies, severe travel restrictions and major reprioritisation of healthcare facilities. Supermarkets will stay open regardless of the alert level.

As at this morning, 66 people have been confirmed with the virus in New Zealand.

However, this will get updated at a press conference with the Ministry of Health early this afternoon.