8 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Easter holidaymakers warned to stay home, away from bach

8:14 am on 8 April 2020

A Whangamatā man says out-of-towners have been using the cover of darkness during lockdown to sneak into the beachside resort for the Easter break.

Whangamata boat ramp.

Whangamatā usually gets busy at Easter, but locals are warning people they should stay home or risk being reported to police. Photo: Google Maps

Police are promising to be out in force this weekend to stop would-be holidaymakers and turn them around before they can reach their destination.

The government, Ministry of Health and police have made it clear: baches and holiday homes are off limits, this weekend is a staycation.

"Stay where you are. Just because it's Easter doesn't mean the rules of alert level 4 have changed," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

The Coromandel Peninsula is one place that would normally be bustling this weekend as holidaymakers flee neighbouring Auckland.

Whangamatā local and community board member Dave Ryan said some had already made the trip - and used darkness to slip past the police.

"People have come in, particularly during the night, to stay at their holiday homes. I have heard some people are intending to come down for the Easter period," Ryan said.

"I'd ask them please to stay away, because our safety's involved, in particular elderly people."

He said some locals would not hesitate to jump on the phone if the empty bach next door was inhabited all of a sudden.

Police warned they would monitor holiday highways over Easter and check water spots to make sure people were not going for a quick fish or swim.

Civil Defence controller for the Thames-Coromandel area Garry Towler said a road trip this weekend was not even worth trying.

"At their peril. I mean that honestly and sincerely. Don't even bother, because the chances of you being successful getting to your holiday home is pretty unlikely."

Easter weekend is normally big for deer hunting too. Tim Gale, the general manager of the Game Animal Council, is urging hunters to hold fire and resist the temptation to head to the hills or backcountry.

"I mean it is heartbreaking being stuck at home during the roar. It's the pinnacle of the hunting year for many hunters. I sympathise with hunters out there - just keep your hopes up, start planning your next trip, start talking with friends about old hunts and hunts to come, and keep positive."

Far North mayor John Carter said staying put this weekend was a small effort everyone needed to make.

"If we all behave ourselves, we'll all be able to travel freely without restrictions soon. But if we breach it, and decide that we can travel and one or two or three of us spread the disease then we're going to be in lockdown for a hell of a lot longer."

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