As Auckland waits with bated breath on the results of thousands of Covid-19 tests taken Wednesday and Thursday, Waikato regions have seen events cancelled and social distancing restrictions brought back in across businesses to limit possible spread of the virus.

Aucklanders trying to escape the level 3 restrictions clogged up the main highways into the Waikato and Coromandel on Wednesday with one of the region's mayors asking Aucklanders to be responsible and stay where they are.

Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie said she didn't blame people for leaving, or wanting to leave, but she hopes that if they were at their bach they stayed in their bubble.

"With the Prime Minister saying stay at home, if you want to keep people safe, you should stay at home. No one knows where it's been in Auckland," Goudie told the NZ Herald.


"If people do manage to escape Auckland, because I can't stop it, then I'm just hoping they stick to themselves, they stay in their bubble.

"Stay home, but if you do get here it's a bit late."

She said the Thames-Coromandel district was home to the highest number of over-65s in New Zealand, and an influx of Aucklanders could put them at risk.

"We don't want you bringing it with you, not to the Coromandel where we've got the highest over-65 population in the country.

"If you do escape, stick to your own bubble and be really staunch about that."

New Zealand Police set up nine roadblocks on Wednesday to isolate the Auckland area, with Police Commissioner Andrew Coster saying 30 to 40 vehicles were turned back on Wednesday morning.

Across the two regions events have been cancelled from the Saturday chess meeting in Thames, to the candidate meetings across the Waikato which included visits from Act leader David Seymour and Greens Party co-leader James Shaw.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Don Good said it was unacceptable that community transmission has again returned to New Zealand.


He said frustration, anger and confusion appear to be the initial reaction from businesses in the Waikato after the announcement on Tuesday of new community transmission in Auckland.

"We were only just starting to come back and rebuild, businesses are already on low reserves, low in confidence and now they have to look at the possibility of closing again if we move in to alert level 3 or 4."

Good said the Government has had four months to prepare for a resurgence and hoped ttheir plan would be communicated quickly and not bit by bit. Another lockdown period for any business will be devastating for the economy.

Queues formed early on Wednesday morning around Supermarkets in the Waikato, but did not last long. Photo / File
Queues formed early on Wednesday morning around Supermarkets in the Waikato, but did not last long. Photo / File

"The Government needs to be held to account with details released about how community transmission has occurred including any details managed isolation facilities."

Councils including Thames-Coromandel, Waipa, Waikato District, Hamilton and Matamata have all moved to place restrictions and safety measures at their facilities, which include wearing masks in places where physical distancing is difficult.

Hamilton City Council chief executive Richard Briggs is urging people to play their part to make sure the risk of community transmission is minimised.


"As always, the council's priority is keeping our people and our community safe," Briggs said.

"We always knew that going back to alert level 2 or higher may happen. We've done this before and we can do it again.

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"There are simple things everyone can do to help the city get through this. People should stay home if unwell, get tested, and self-isolate until the result is known. Wash your hands regularly, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and keep track of where you've been."

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate is encouraging residents to simply "do what's right".

"We can beat this. But we won't overcome it by being complacent.

"Let's not panic, let's just be prepared. We know what to do – let's do it. The effort we all put in now will stop this rebounding back and will help us get back on top of it quickly."


On Wednesday and Thursday, Hamilton's Covid-19 testing centre at Claudelands Arena was closed due to a high volume of residents wanting to be tested, with some in line waiting for six hours.

After the Prime Minister's announcement on Tuesday night, Hamiltonians rushed to the supermarkets in the early hours of Wednesday morning with lines forming outside Countdown in Hamilton CBD and Dinsdale, despite messages from both the Government and supermarket chains not to panic buy.

Pak'nSave Thames supermarket had a long queue outside on its usually-quiet Wednesday morning shopping day and duty manager Marcel Vroege estimated 40 per cent were not local.

Abiding by level 2 restrictions, the store had 50-60 staff on duty as usual which accounted for some of the waiting times because it was restricted to allowing 100 people inside and social distancing rules.

"I'd say 40 per cent are Aucklanders coming in, there are lots of new faces I haven't ever seen before. We're trying to get [customers] through as fast possible, there is lots of panic buying even though you tell them not to. Everyone seems to be doing their monthly shop," said Vroege.