Exiled from Main St
Northland police went about informing visitors of the nationwide lockdown yesterday while there was an eerie quiet around our streets as people largely did the right thing and stayed at home, Kristin Edge reports.
Police across Northland have been patrolling streets and scouring beaches to educate people about the lockdown rules, with tourists and freedom campers being directed to specific locations in Whanga¯rei.
At least one group of freedom campers, who set up camp overnight at popular Wellington’s Bay on the Tutukaka Coast, were visited by police officers on day one of lockdown about 10.30am yesterday.
It’s believed the foreigners, travelling in four vans, had been in New Zealand for a while and were from the Netherlands, Israel and Germany.
Officers took their details and directed them to one of five sites in Whanga¯rei where they would be given instructions on what to do for the rest of the lockdown period. Northland Police District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said police staff across the region yesterday were stopping and talking to motorists and tourists about why they were out and about.
“We are going about speaking to visitors to Northland and we want them to come to a central location in Whanga¯rei. This is about protecting our vulnerable communities and giving these visitors the support they also need.” There were two checkpoints set up during the day — one just south of Whanga¯rei and then in the afternoon on Western Hills Dr, also in Whanga¯rei. “On the whole, there has been good compliance with most people having valid reasons but we were getting some people who were confused
about the details,” Hill said.
“We have the power to compel people to do things but we would rather people clearly understood what is required of them. I genuinely believe most Northlanders are doing the right thing.”
About midday in Kaikohe there were reports of a carload of people turning up with boxes of beers for a party. Police were called and “education” was given to the people at the property and they then dispersed.
And in Whanga¯rei police were called to a supermarket after a report of a man becoming aggressive towards security staff.
Hill reiterated the clear message sent out by Police Commissioner Mike Bush that New Zealanders should only go out in their cars to get essential supplies and should not think about driving to the beach.
“We are conscious people would like to use the beaches and facilities we use all the time in Northland. But stay home, save lives. Once this passes the beaches will still be there for us to use,” Hill said.
In a national statement yesterday Bush said if people breached the requirements, they will be warned and their details taken.
“If people won’t comply, we do have the authority to detain them, take them to our place,” and give them time to contemplate their decisions.
People would be prosecuted for “serious” breaches.
Bush made it clear people driving to a park had to “keep it local” and should not be driving “willy nilly” all over town. “You only go out in your vehicle if you need to go and get essential food supplies, essential medical supplies or medical treatment. Otherwise, please stay at home,” Bush said.
Yesterday online surf report company Surf2Surf announced police and the Coastguard would be using its webcams to check lineups and carparks for rule-breakers.
In Northland there are two cameras at Mangawhai and one with multiple angles at Sandy Bay.
Harbourmaster Jim Lyle urged everyone to follow the advice of Police Commissioner Bush and
Coastguard to not venture out on the water. At 10am Lyle reported the boat ramp at Opua was empty of vehicles with boat trailers.
He doubted if boaties ignored the lockdown and got into trouble and sank that a team would be able to respond.
“I doubt we would have contractors we could mobilise for a salvage operation. Pollution, debris and environmental problems would be superseded by the Covid-19 health issue, ” Lyle said.
“It could all be avoided by just staying home until this health issue is over.”
Meanwhile, police were yesterday called out to reports of a couple having sex in a vehicle parked on the side of a Whanga¯rei street. The initial call reported a female and male kissing at 9.10am.
Twenty minutes later the amorous duo had moved to another vehicle on the same street and were reported to have stepped things up.
The caller was worried they were not abiding by social distancing rules.
We are conscious people would like to use the beaches and facilities we use all the time in Northland. But stay home, save lives.
Northland Police District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill
Bank Street, Whangārei