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Beachgoers and builders in the firing line amid warning of 'concerning' Level 3 breaches

Rather than lifeguards, police were controlling a beach in Christchurch today in a crackdown on people breaching Level 3 restrictions.

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Beachgoers in Christchurch came under the firing line today. Source: 1 NEWS

Today Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield issued a warning about the number of "concerning" Level 3 breaches, saying ultimately it could "slow a move to Level 2".

Police have received 1200 reports about parties and mass gatherings this week, with more than half of those over a 24-hour period this weekend.

At Sumner today, police officers were sweeping the beach in an attempt to move along hundreds of people flocking to soak up the Sunday sun.

While many felt they were obeying Level 3 rules, police today were clear: if you're not exercising. clear out. 

Given the sheer volume of people, social distancing was near impossible. 

And even though police set up checkpoints ahead of the teeming suburb, cars kept pouring past.

It follows several days of rule breaking nationwide. 

There were nearly 700 reports just this weekend of parties, with 112 leading to prosecution. 

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Police report disappointing number of parties, almost 700 Level 3 breaches in just 24 hours

"We've had a number of small gatherings and people gathering in a social setting and we'd just like to remind everyone that under Alert Level 3 now, is not the time to socialise or to host a party," acting assistant commissioner Scott Fraser told 1 NEWS.

But it's not just socialising that's concerning officials.

1 NEWS has filmed several builders back on site in Level 3, who by law should be one metre apart, not only working shoulder-to-shoulder but even sharing cigarettes.

"Everyone has worked so hard under Alert Level 4, to get to Alert Level 3, so we want everyone to keep sticking to the rules," Mr Fraser says.

Today there was a stark warning from the top, the Director-General of Health making it clear that a move down the alert levels is not a given and breaches could slow the shift to Level 2. 

Police are backing that message and taking a hard line, despite the grey area.