Breaches of current restrictions could delay move to Level 2 - Dr Bloomfield

By Jessica Tyson

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says breaches of the Alert Level 3 restrictions could delay the government’s decision to transition the county into Level 2.

Yesterday police announced that since the introduction of the Alert Level 3 restrictions they have received 1,200 reports from the public to the 105 breach notification line in regard to mass gatherings.

Dr Bloomfield says, “We are certainly looking hard at the compliance with Level 3 expectations. That’s one of the things giving us assurance that there won’t be ongoing transmission."

He says New Zealanders have done well to try and break the chain of transmission when the country first went in to Alert level 4.

“But we can’t afford to take our foot off the pedal. We’ve got to squeeze out that extra certainty that we’ve not got community transmission out there and if we do find community transmission over this next week and if that’s because people have been relaxed and haven’t really complied with the expectations in Alert Level 3 then that may well delay a decision.”

Last week, the government’s lead on Māori health John Whaanga said the Ministry of Health’s response could have been better.    

Dr Bloomfield agreed with Whaanga that the government could always do better, but he’s proud of the progress they’ve achieved for Māori when it comes to testing and infection rates among Māori.

“Over the past few weeks, what I’m pleased to see I that our testing rates for Māori are high. They’re in proportion with the population, says Dr Bloomfield.

“Only eight per cent of our total infections with COVID-19 are among Māori but 16 percent of our tests. So I think that’s really good.”

He also commends Māori providers across the health and social sectors who have done great work with iwi and whānau in the community to get messages out there communicating to people about how to protect themselves.

Police warn New Zealanders about mass gatherings

Acting Assistant Commissioner Scott Fraser says under no circumstances should anyone be having a party under the Alert Level 3 restrictions.

"Such behaviour could waste all the sacrifices made by our team of five million over the last five weeks," he says.

Since the introduction of Alert Level 3 restrictions, police have taken enforcement action against 514 people for breaches of either the Health Act or the Civil Defence Emergency Act. Of the 514 breaches, there have between 135 prosecutions and 342 warnings.

In the 24 hours between 6pm May 1 and 6pm May 2 Police took enforcement action against 112 people.

“Police is prioritising attendance to reports of mass gatherings of 10 or more people. Holding a party in the current environment is in breach of the Health Act and where appropriate enforcement action will be taken, this could be against the party hosts and the attendees."

People are being urged to contact the police if they suspect a breach of the restrictions is occurring.