Northlanders are being urged to take care on the roads and the water during this first weekend of post-lockdown freedom.

A kind forecast — mainly fine with moderate southeasterly winds — and the first weekend in two months without level 3 or 4 restrictions is expected to have Northlanders flexing their new freedoms.

Some watersports were allowed at Covid-19 alert level 3, but power boating was banned along with overnight trips in the bush, hunting on conservation land and visiting friends or family in other regions.

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Coastguard New Zealand chief executive Callum Gillespie expected an unseasonably high number of boats on the water this weekend, particularly in Northland.

Many boats have been parked up in driveways or marinas for the past seven weeks, so it paid to check engines and replace old fuel with clean, fresh fuel.

"Don't forget to charge your batteries. The AA had a record day of callouts after the lockdown with 80 per cent of callouts for flat batteries that hadn't been started for five weeks. The same can happen to your boat battery,'' Gillespie said.

He also urged Northlanders not to forget safety amid the excitement of returning to their favourite playground.

Essential safety measures included taking and wearing lifejackets, having two forms of waterproof communication, and keeping an eye on the weather.

Coastguard patrols were suspended during levels 3 and 4 but volunteers had remained on call and responded to 15 emergencies. They had spent the past week getting rescue boats and aircraft ready for this weekend, he said.

Boaties making the most of level 2 in Whangārei Harbour yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Boaties making the most of level 2 in Whangārei Harbour yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The lifting of level 3 at 11.59pm on Wednesday ended the worst of the restrictions, but social distancing rules still apply along with a limit of 10 people at most gatherings. Tangi and funerals can have to up to 50 and some events can have more if the venue allows for social distancing.

Northland Detective Inspector Dene Begbie said officers would be out and about this weekend and would respond to calls about celebrations or gatherings of more than 10 people.

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The rules had been set to keep people safe while there was a chance the virus was still circulating.

Begbie expected much more traffic this weekend than Northland had seen for almost two months. He urged motorists to drive at safe speeds, maintain safe distances, wear seat belts and not to drink and drive.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Medical officer of health Catherine Jackson called on Northlanders to ''play it safe'' to avoid a second wave of infections, as had happened in Singapore and South Korea.

''Keep your distance from other people in public, especially people you don't know, and continue to practice good health etiquette by washing hands for 20 seconds and drying them well, sneezing into your arm, and not touching your face.''

Meanwhile, visitors to Northland hospitals will continue to face tight restrictions despite the end of level 3.

Northland District Health Board emergency planning manager Sarah Hoyle said lockdown rules would remain in place to ensure patient safety, because physical distancing was not always possible within hospitals.

Exceptions could be made on compassionate grounds and there were extra allowances for mothers in labour. Visiting hours remained 11am-8pm.

Send us your photos of what you are up to during the first level 2 weekend. Email reporters@northernadvocate.co.nz.


• Go to boatiesbestmate.nz for Coastguard's full level 2 preparation checklist.