Warning to those who breach lockdown
Police have expressed their disappointment at the behaviour of some people in the Gisborne area on day one of the Covid-19 lockdown and they want to see it improve..
Tairawhiti police were out and about yesterday spot checking vehicle and people movements, with a focus on educating people about the requirements of the lockdown.
“It is clear that some people are not getting the message to stay home and isolate,” said Inspector Lincoln Sycamore.
He made the comment after more than 50 vehicles were stopped overnight (Thursday) and the occupants spoken to.
“The message from health experts and the Government is only to go out for things that are essential.”
Insp Sycamore said police encountered cars travelling with a number of occupants from different addresses.
“The Ministry of Health notes that people undertaking such behaviour may unwittingly pick up the virus and take it home, spreading it to family members.
“We are continuing to take an ‘education first' approach but there are some people who have been spoken to twice about breaching the rules.
“If those people are found breaching the lockdown again, they will be liable to be arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
“We will not hesitate to enforce the rules if required.”
Insp Sycamore said it was important to note that the vast majority of people were moving about for legitimate reasons.
“However, viruses like this do not discriminate and we are all at risk of infection.”
Insp Sycamore said they were recording people's IDs and reinforcing the pubic health messages.
“We will be building up individual pictures of what people are doing and if circumstances dictate, we will start taking enforcement action. So far there has been no need to make any arrests or issue any infringement notices.”
Breaches of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act can mean fines of $5000 or three months imprisonment.
“We did have one incident on Wednesday night where police encountered a car with six people in it on their way home from a party.
“They were blasé about the need for isolation and were educated about it.”
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has further clarrified what people can do when it comes to moving about and driving a vehicle.
He said on NewstalkZB he was aware there was some confusion over where people could drive.
“They can drive to work if the person is travelling to what is officially deemed to be an essential job. They can drive to the supermarket or to receive medical assistance.
“People can use their cars to travel to a local park for exercise but they cannot be driving across town. Don't drive to have a surf, for example.”
Mr Bush said people could also walk to their local park for exercise but they should stay in their own neighbourhood.
■ A Gisborne man who relieves his sciatica pain by walking on soft sand is frustrated he has not been allowed to drive to the beach.
“That's how I get my therapy,” says 70-year-old Busby Akuhata. “I can't go to my physiotherapist because they are closed down.”
To walk the three kilometres from his place to the beach entails walking on concrete footpaths, which aggravates the pain, he says.
After driving to the supermarket yesterday, he drove to Kaiti Beach for a walk.
A fisheries officer he encountered there told him he was not allowed to do that.
“I reckon it's ridiculous. We're allowed to drive to Pak'nSave but not to the beach. I think they should allow the elderly to drive to the beach because we're more sensible.
“They're punishing one thing but allowing another to take place.”
Police Commissioner Bush told media that people would not be allowed to drive “across town” to the beach during the lockdown.
However, in another statement he said while no one should drive anywhere without good reason, locals were allowed to drive to the beach if it was close for a walk or exercise.
“Don't be driving willy-nilly all over town. It's all about if it's nearby. If it's for exercise — that's OK.”