Covid-19 community checkpoint in Northland shut down

4:51 pm on 28 January 2021

Police have shut down a community checkpoint in Waiomio in Northland citing traffic safety concerns.

Hone Harawira talks to Inspector Riki Whiu at Waiomio checkpoint in Northland

A police officer talks to Hone Harawira at the Waiomio checkpoint. Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

The checkpoint was one of three set up this morning in the Far North.

Inspector Riki Whiu from Northland police said their focus was safety.

They needed to ensure pedestrians stayed safe on the roadside and motorists were not prevented from driving on a state highway which had a 100km/h speed limit, he said.

"Police engaged with the group when attempts were made to prevent traffic flowing. The group willingly complied with police and they left the area a short time later."

Police were continuing to hold discussions with the group and the relationship remained "positive", Whiu said.

"The group has good intentions but we must reiterate that while New Zealand remains in alert level 1 there is no requirement for any Covid-19 community checkpoints and our expectation is that they are not operating."

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Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

With holidaymakers expected to head to the district for Auckland Anniversary weekend a spokesman, Hone Harawira, said earlier the aim was to give visitors Covid-19 information.

Two new cases of Covid-19 in Auckland are the South African coronavirus variant, and initial results show they are connected to the Northland case. All three people went through managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland and tested positive after leaving the facility.

"Our aim is not to stop and turn anybody around. This is not what this exercise is about," Harawira said earlier at the checkpoint at Waiomio, just south of Kawakawa.

"Our job is to re-establish checkpoints to protect our people from Covid-19 and this new variant, the South African strain.

"This will enable us to provide a strong visible public presence, provide information on where to get help."

Harawira said tens of thousands of people usually travelled to the district on Auckland Anniversary weekend and Te Tai Tokerau people were worried.

"You can imagine just how scared we are up here, with a scarcity of health resources barely enough to look after the current population.

"We would appreciate if people thought twice about coming and possibly stayed home.

"But our job today and tomorrow and over the weekend is not to turn anybody back."

He said pamphlets would be handed out with information on Northland testing centre locations and hotlines to call if needed.

John Carter

Far North Mayor John Carter Photo: SUPPLIED

Far North Mayor John Carter backed the community run effort to give information on Covid-19 information.

He said they were working with authorities on a legal structure.

"What we're looking to do here is to set up information centres to help people on what they need to be doing while they're travelling though our district. We welcome them but we want them to be safe for their sake and for our sake.

"I congratulate the community iwi on the initiative they're taking to try and keep people well informed to remind them not to be complacent, to have information so that if they know what to be safe, wash your hands, all those things.

Advice from the Ministry of Health:

  • The recent cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Northland have been linked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission.
  • The locations visited by the recent cases can be found on the Ministry of Health website
  • To help stamp out Covid-19, it's important the right people isolate and get tested
  • If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to: isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until you have a negative test result
  • If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested
  • If you were not at any of the locations of interest at the stated times, but you have symptoms, call Healthline for advice on 0800 358 5453
  • If you are going to get tested, remember you may have to queue. Please take food and water and continue to be kind to each other and our public health team
  • Everyone should continue to scan QR codes using the Covid Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on to help stop the spread of Covid-19

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