3 Mar 2021

Almost 10,000 vehicles left Auckland ahead of Sunday lockdown

6:42 pm on 3 March 2021

Aucklanders who beat the lockdown and fled to other parts of the North Island are being urged to keep level 3 with them. Thousands left Auckland in between the lockdown being announced and the change coming into force on Sunday morning.

Rush hour traffic in Auckland City

Photo: Kerry Kissane

Northlanders and Coromandel locals say they have noticed more out-of-towners and officials want the newcomers to stay vigilant.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency said about 9200 vehicles left Auckland between 9pm Saturday and 6am Sunday, far more than usual.

The owner of Unichem Pharmacy in Kerikeri Northland, Vicki Douglas,​ said her business had seen more prescriptions from Auckland. Just within an hour after the store opened this morning, there were two prescriptions from Aucklanders.

"We're dispensing a lot more prescriptions that have been emailed up for people that are from Auckland addresses, and we've also observed a number of people who have arrived up here and have forgotten their medicines, so we've had to organise to get medicines for them," she said.

She said her pharmacy processed at least a dozen prescriptions a day from Auckland recently, but that would not affect local needs.

"We're certainly not dispensing numbers as much as we were when Covid first struck in March last year, so we haven't got that same panic of people wanting their prescription so that just gets absorbed into the daily routine."

In Kaipara District north of Auckland, mayor Jason Smith said people started arriving from outside the area after the alert level change.

SH1 northbound traffic at Mangawhai

SH1 northbound traffic at Mangawhai Photo: Supplied / NZTA

"There are many more people than would normally be here in some of the beach houses in communities of Mangawhai, Whakapirau, Pahi right across the Kaipara District," he said.

He said people temporarily staying in the area should be more vigilant than locals and get a covid test if they feel unwell.

"People do need to take their virus alert level with them, so if you're coming to Northland from Auckland, please consider that you are at level 3 even though the place isn't you're going to and then the second thing is that from a Northland perspective, we're trying to keep the virus down and out of the North."

SH1 southbound traffic at SH2 interchange.

SH1 southbound traffic at SH2 interchange. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

In Coromandel, Whangamatā Community Board deputy chair Dave Ryan said he noticed more vehicles from out of town on his night-time community patrol.

"It was noticeable on Saturday night that from 11pm on that more vehicles were entering into town and a number of camper vans were also seen travelling into town. Since then, it has been noticeable in the supermarkets and restaurants that there are a number of visiting people or non-local people that are here, including school children."

He said his community had a large elderly population and visitors should be mindful not to endanger anyone.

SH2 eastbound at SH1 interchange traffic.

SH2 eastbound at SH1 interchange traffic. Photo: Supplied / NZTA

"If they come down here and respect people and stay confined within their properties, then I don't have a concern with that. I mean, a lot of people owned properties down here, but the main thing is the protection of particularly elderly people, and for that matter, schoolchildren, if it [the virus] gets into our schools."

Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Transport Agency recorded 1700 vehicles going through the State Highway 1 northern checkpoint from Auckland. There were 5000 at the southern checkpoint, and 2500 at the State Highway 2 checkpoint.

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