Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has clarified the COVID-19 lockdown rules

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has clarified the COVID-19 lockdown rules, and urged Kiwis to take them seriously. 

In a press conference on Friday Ardern stressed the crucial need for every New Zealander to respect the strict measures in place.

"Stay local. Yes people will need to drive to the supermarket, their GP but whenever they do that, keep it local," she said.

"The longer distance you drive the greater risk you present. Anyone who may have an accident, breakdown or every time you refuel, you present a risk to your community," 

She also clarified the rules on visiting places close to home.

"I understand if there is a beach on your doorstep you may choose to walk up and down it but congregation is what we cannot have. I do not want to see the scenes of Bondi Beach here."

Australian officials closed Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach on Saturday after thousands of people flocked there defying social distancing orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

On Thursday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush warned that anyone breaking the rules of the lockdown could face up to six months in prison. 

Any "serious breaches and prolific breaches" of the rules will be prosecuted.

"We'll take the approach we always take with any type of offence - we'll use our discretion," he said.

They will take a discretionary approach in the first instance and people will be warned and challenged about whether they're an essential service or going about essential business.

A record will be kept of people who breach the requirements.