12 Aug 2020

Covid-19 alert level 3: Aucklanders queue for testing, rush to supermarkets

From Checkpoint, 5:17 pm on 12 August 2020

Auckland has ground to a halt today as people rushed out to get supplies, Covid tests, and work gear, as the alert level 3 restrictions came into place.

Despite assurances that supermarkets and pharmacies would stay open for the three days of lockdown, supermarkets were mobbed by panicked Aucklanders.

It was gridlock around the six testing centres across the Super City.

At about 6.30am at a Covid-19 drive-through testing station in Eden Terrace, a stream of cars joined the queue even though the centre was not opening for another hour.

In nearby Mt Eden Village, shoppers rushed to their local bakeries and fruit shops while they still could. 

Tuesday night's announcement came as a shock to shoppers, including Annie, who stocked up for her first meal of the new lockdown. 

"I rang all my neighbours last night, just to make sure they heard the news," she said. 

She had stocked up on potatoes, bread, eggs, milk, tuna fish and avocado. "All the essentials, I think."

KC Loo Fruit Centre, like thousands of other Auckland businesses, is preparing to close its doors.

Its aisles will be empty for at least three days under alert level 3 lockdown restrictions, though the store will still be open for contactless collections and deliveries. 

For Frances Loo it's a reality she hoped she'd never have to face. 

"It's a been a bit uncertain, had a few order cancellations from the hospitality side of things. And probably the main feeling is a bit of frustration that we've come back to where we are, but we've got to get on with it."

Just off Dominion Road an enormous queue of at least 300 people had formed outside Countdown Mt Eden. 

Many supermarkets closed on Wednesday night so staff could re-stock shelves to cope with the onslaught of demand. 

"We had to line up for a while because it was meant to open at 6am, but I don't think it opened to 6:30. There was a big line, but it was fine. People aren't really social distancing... But there was heaps of food and it was fine," one shopper told Checkpoint

At the Eden Terrace testing site, by 10am the queue had grown massive. Hundreds of vehicles were gridlocked up and down New North Rd, with traffic each way stretching nearly a kilometre. 

By midday when alert level 3 began, Ponsonby Road was jam-packed with motorists heading home. 

Cafes were bringing in outside seating and takeaway joints were setting up tables so customers could pick up food without entering. Many other retail shops had already closed. 

It's deja vu in the Super City as it closes until midnight Friday, at least.