Police are using surf cameras to check for Covid-19 lockdown rule breakers as a dramatic injury demonstrates the danger of practising outdoor sports.
On Wednesday afternoon, hours before the lockdown rules came into force, a surfer came off on a large wave at Gisborne's Wainui Beach, and suffered severe spinal injuries, needing to be flown to Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.
An Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust spokeswoman said the 32-year-old was in a stable
condition throughout the flight to Auckland.
Although it was prior to the Level 4 lockdown, it was a reminder to stay home during this time.
"No hunting, surfing, fishing, horse riding - every accident/incident we attend
during this lockdown exposes our crews, our families and all the health care people to all the dangers this lockdown is put in place to prevent," the spokeswoman said.
"Please think about it before you leave your house. You may not be infected, but the first bystander that helps you might - then the 10 other people involved in getting you to the hospital are at risk."
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In an emotional post shared publicly on social media, a local surfer and nurse shared how the incident had changed his mind about surfing during the four-week lockdown.
It illustrated the reason to stop surfing - and other outdoor activities - during the lockdown was not only to stay away from others, but the risk of a serious accident occurring, taking up hospital resources and putting lives at risk.
"The resources required for his beach retrieval and ongoing treatment are significant.
"The ambulance staff and ambulance, the district's only chopper with transfer and winch capacity, the medical team that will receive him and care for him.
"If surgery is needed that requires a theatre and the ventilator along with the team that runs this.
"We currently appear to have our normal capacity to do this and I am very pleased.
"When Covid-19 reveals its true presence in our communities these resources will possibly have to be diverted from supporting those suffering from this disease.
"It may be us or our whānau. They will be happy to treat our adventure activity injuries again on the other side of this.
"I now know why I shouldn't go surfing."
Surfing has not been specifically banned, but discouraged by bodies like Surf Lifesaving NZ and the Coastguard as they will not be operating during the lockdown, and any incident could put them in danger.
The Department of Conservation, Mountain Safety Council and Fish and Game have also all advised against outdoor acitivities during the lockdown.
Police have also said anyone travelling in cars for non-essential activities will be stopped.
Several surfing clubs across the country have also called on surfers to refrain from the sport over the next four weeks, including Raglan Point Boardriders Club - which yesterday called for surfers to stay off the world famous surf breaks, and Gisborne Boardriders Club, among others.
Meanwhile online surf report company Surf2Surf announced today police and the Coastguard would be using its webcams to check lineups and carparks for rule-breakers.
View this post on Instagram
Big changes to S2 overnight - SURF2SURF.com NZ Police and NZ Coast Guard now using S2 cams. We are tweaking / adding some cam views for them (carpark views like Manu Bay - great to see only 4 cars in lot this am, and other space sensitive areas etc…) FREE Cam Imagery stopped. Reports Stopped. Stoke set at 1. Forecasting stopped. S2 supports Raglan and Gisborne Boardriders (and others around NZ) - Take a break from surfing, it won't hurt!! We ask our users to be patient and support S2 at this time. We are a small business also and none of our running costs have changed.
The company has also stopped providing surf reports during the lockdown period, in a bid to support the Government's attempts to stop the spread of Covid-19.
"Take a break from surfing, it won't hurt," the company said.
Police have been approached for comment.
Many top surfbreaks across the country are also being made inaccessible by community checkpoints and lockdowns.
In the far north and East Cape - north of Gisborne - iwi and community leaders alongside police have instigated checkpoints to prevent tourists and travellers from entering their areas, and potentially spreading the deadly virus.
Those two areas are particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, with among the highest rates of respiratory illnesses in the country and poor access to health centres.
Police commissioner Mike Bush on Wednesday warned New Zealanders to not even think about driving to the beach or a park for some fresh air once the lockdown starts.
Bush told Newstalk ZB host Chris Lynch that people should only go out in their cars to get essential supplies.
"What happens if somebody wants to go for a drive, say to a local beach or get out and about to a local park?" Lynch asked. "Are they in a position to drive there?"
"There's a short answer to that - no they're not," replied Bush. "You only go out in your vehicle if you need to go and get essential food supplies, essential medical supplies or medical treatment. Otherwise, please stay at home."
Yesterday at 11.59pm the country went into lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19 as the number of cases in the country rose to 205 - more than double the amount on Monday.
The lockdown means all non-essential workers need to work from home, and people need to limit all travel outside of their homes to essential activities, such as collecting groceries or health supplies.
Exercise is allowed, but is encouraged in close proximity to peoples' homes, and while observing a two metre barrier from others.