Coronavirus: Police 'absolutely discourage' all driving during lockdown that isn't essential

The police are urging New Zealanders not to drive around "willy-nilly" during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Level 4 lockdown requires everyone to stay in their homes and not interact with anyone outside of their household. Even nipping down the road to see a family member is a no-no.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said on Thursday the police "absolutely discourage" any driving that isn't essential.

"There should be no driving around the streets unless you have a very good reason. So if you need medical assistance or you're an essential worker or you need food, that's when you go."

He says people should "keep it local" when travelling and only do so when it's essential.

"Don't be driving willy-nilly all over town. For me, it's all about if it's nearby, if it's for exercise - that's okay." This includes travelling to work, the supermarket, or to any other essential service.

Police also confirmed in a statement that locals are allowed to drive to the beach if it's close by for the purpose of walking or exercise, but they discourage everyone from driving along the beach.

And they had a warning for anyone who wanted to swim at the beach during lockdown.

"With any marine activity there is always a risk you will need assistance or rescuing. This would mean volunteers having to come out of isolation and placing themselves and their families at risk."

The lockdown began on Wednesday evening and will last for at least four weeks.