As two staff members test positive for Covid-19, police are grappling with ways to keep their workforce safe while still enforcing the rules of the lockdown, Marc Daalder reports

Two police staff have tested positive for Covid-19, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Monday, while nearly 400 others are now in self-isolation after being classified as close contacts.

The news came as part of the Government’s daily press conference on the response to Covid-19, where Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there had been 76 new cases overnight, one of which was a probable case that has now been confirmed. Two people with the virus are in intensive care and 63 have recovered.

Bush outlined police efforts to enforce the nationwide lockdown, which seeks to turn those numbers around as quickly as possible. In particular, Bush said there was a possibility the police would begin discouraging people from attending crowded areas such as beaches and parks, even if they were allowed to do so.

“I drove past Oriental Parade last night and it did surprise me how many people were out and about,” Bush said.

“Yes, it’s within the rules, but I observed a number of people that weren’t keeping their social distance. Obviously some were still in their bubble but it was obvious to me that some weren’t and the social distancing wasn’t being adhered to. I think that’s something we really need to consider. I think if people aren’t complying, we’re going to have to revisit this.”

In the 24 hours between the debut of an online form for reporting non-compliance with lockdown restrictions and Bush’s press conference on Monday, more than 4200 reports were filed, Bush said. Of these, around 1000 dealt with noncompliance from businesses and the remainder targeted individuals.

Three people have been arrested for noncompliance.

Bush also said police were working to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline staff.

“We are building our stocks of PPE. We’re taking our normal risk-based approach to that, but at the same time, it’s important that we get sufficient PPE to them and that’s been a work in progress over the last week,” Bush said.

Police had previously anticipated a rise in family violence reports as people remained at home, but Bush said they had seen a slight decrease instead.

The police are also involved with enforcing New Zealand’s border restrictions. Bush told reporters that 4547 Kiwis had returned from overseas in the past three days. Of these, 94 were quarantined for having flu-like symptoms and another 1200 were quarantined for not having a “satisfactory” self-isolation plan.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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