Coronavirus: Top cop's warning to lockdown breachers as prosecutions spike

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is threatening increased enforcement of the lockdown rules - and has revealed a massive spike in prosecutions for breaches.

New Zealand is currently under a lockdown, implemented in order to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It requires Kiwis to stay indoors unless they are heading out for essential services or exercise. 

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, Cmmr Coster said authorities have received 37,000 reports of breaches, and there have been 45 prosecutions - up from 16 on Tuesday.

These prosecutions were for people deliberately flouting the lockdown rules, including some for people who had been caught more than once.

Another 309 people were given warnings for breaches of the Civil Defence Emergency Act or the Health Act, and there were 13 youth referrals. 

More enforcement and checkpoints

Firmer enforcement is on the way over the Easter period in case people think of travelling.

Cmmr Coster said Kiwis thinking of breaking the lockdown to head to popular areas need to "change your plans immediately".

People can expect to see more checkpoints and mobile controls set up to catch offenders.

Acting Superintendent Gini Welch, National Manager for Road Policing, says the only travel that people should be undertaking is essential travel.

"We will be ensuring people who are using the road are doing so for the appropriate and allowed reasons, and are doing so safely," she said in a statement.

"Since March 21, 12 lives have been lost on the road, eight of these people died during alert level 4 restrictions.

"There is a more than 75 percent decrease in traffic in most places across New Zealand, yet we are still seeing people die on the roads."