EASTERN Bay police are patrolling across the district as the country remains at alert level four, and are urging the public to abide by the rules.

Senior Sergeant Al Fenwick said everyone we had a role to play at this unprecedented time, and the police would be fulfilling an educational role as the community remained in lockdown.

“We have a role to play in making sure the public are abiding by the lockdown. We are planning to stop people and let them know what is required of the public.”

The powers the police have are wide-ranging, however it is up to them how they enforce these so-called powers, according to Mr Fenwick.

“There’s a million things we can do, we just need to use those powers wisely.

“If you are asking yourself, ‘should I be doing this?’- usually the answer is no. At the end of the four-week lockdown, if it continues to spread, these efforts will have all been for nothing, so people really need to take it seriously,” Mr Fenwick said.

There have been a multitude of comments from all corners of the community to do with the rules of self-isolation, however police are clear in their messaging – “stay home”.

“Do we need to see death in our community before we take it seriously. It’s all fun and games until it’s your Nan supported by a ventilator.”

Mr Fenwick said this kind of situation was something that could not be planned for, however, front-line work in such unknown waters was just part of the job for police.

“We are at a higher risk because of our work, but we knew that when we signed up to be police officers.

“We do it because we care about the community and if everyone plays their part, we’ll get through this together.”

Mr Fenwick added that the elderly had been seen using ATM’s to get cash out of their accounts, and recommends people use online banking as much as possible.

“As long as they are cleaning and sanitising, some things you can’t avoid.”

Going forward the police will be maintaining high visibility during patrols and Mr Fenwick warns the public, “expect to be stopped.”

Mr Fenwick said there would be police checkpoints situated in and out of town to assess if travel was essential, and to educate those who might not be sticking to the rules.

“If breaching continues it may result in people getting charged but we don’t want it to come to that- that is our worst-case scenario.”

Senior Sergeant Mark van der Kley agreed with these sentiments.

“People should not be participating in non-essential travel,” Mr van der Kley said.

hazel.osborne@thebeacon.co.nz