Jacinda Ardern reminds Kiwis New Zealand is still at COVID-19 alert level 4 amid thousands of lockdown breaches

The Prime Minister has reminded Kiwis that New Zealand is still under COVID-19 alert level 4 as police revealed more than 4000 breaches of the lockdown so far. 

"While I know there are things we are all looking forward to under alert level 3, we must not risk the gains that we have made or that many New Zealanders have made sacrifices for over the last four weeks," Jacinda Ardern said. 

Police have informed the Prime Minister that while 99.9 percent of Kiwis are respecting the lockdown measures in place, there are still some flouting the rules, with 4128 breaches reported as of 6pm on Tuesday. 

To break the lockdown rules is to breach the Health Act and the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act, which together gave the Government powers to prohibit mass gatherings and order people to stay home, among other things. 

There have been 433 prosecutions so far, 3580 official warnings and 115 youth referrals.

"Each and every one of these people involved in breaches risks undoing the work of others, so again I say please don't travel unnecessarily or gather," Ardern said. "Police will be conducting checkpoints and they will be enforcing the rules."

New Zealanders have one more weekend in alert level 4 lockdown before the nation is shifted into the lighter alert level 3 at a minute before midnight on Monday April 27, which will allow some people to return to work and expand their 'bubbles'. 

It comes as the number of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand has been dropping off significantly over the past two weeks, with just six new cases confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1451, while more than 1000 Kiwis have recovered. 

The total number of coronavirus cases worldwide has now topped 2.5 million, with the virus claiming the lives of more than 170,000, while more than 690,000 have recovered. 

Ardern said three out of the new confirmed cases in New Zealand are linked to overseas travel, and she reminded the nation that regardless of moving to alert level 3, Kiwis returning home will continue to be quarantined. 

"That will continue on. We have given no endpoint to that part of our response to COVID-19. It is an intrinsic part of our response. It is not changing because we are moving alert levels."

She said there are currently 2403 people in Government-provided hotels. The number of people in quarantine - those being tested for COVID-19 or who have symptoms - is 97 with the remainder being in isolation. 

New Zealand's largest infrastructure project the City Rail Link will be back to work post-lockdown, Ardern said, with 200 workers resuming construction on Tuesday at sites in Auckland CBD and on the southern line at Otahuhu. 

"We've worked really hard to cushion the blow from COVID-19 with initiatives like the wage subsidy and advanced payments to transport contractors. Getting transport projects back underway safely is part of our transition out of level 4."

The Government has spent more than $9 billion so far subsidising the wages of 1.6 million New Zealanders as most businesses were forced to shut for the duration of the lockdown. 

"Measures appropriate for level 3 are being put in place, including restricting access to sites, having workers practise physical distancing, and providing protective clothing where that is necessary," Ardern said. 

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) projects and essential state highway maintenance will also be able to resume under level 3 but with strict health and safety protocols. 

You can read more about alert level 3 here.