Businesses at a popular Northland holiday destination are annoyed hordes of Aucklanders who drove north just before lockdown may trigger a coronavirus outbreak in their small community.
Cars and campervans lined up outside essential businesses such as gas stations in Mangawhai on Wednesday morning, prompting fears the health and safety of locals could be in serious jeopardy.
Auckland went into a three-day lockdown at midday on Wednesday after four Covid-19 cases emerged while Northland moved to alert level 2.
By yesterday morning, there were 17 active cases in Auckland and a further 19 were other active cases that were in managed isolation and were directly linked to the border.
• Covid-19 coronavirus: Report shows Northland cases' transmission sources
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Northland Mum frustrated after quarantine testing debacle
• Covid-19 coronavirus: New Northland case in Whangārei hospital
• Covid 19: Northland's increased testing shows no new cases in region
David Glover, owner of Bammas Surf Shop in Mangawhai, said local businesses felt the impact of Aucklanders who arrived with boats and jetskis and their kids in pyjamas early on Wednesday.
"We'd rather trade normal than be busy in a situation like this where they could be bringing Covid up here. It's very scary for my staff and as a business owner, I am responsible for the safety of my staff.
"I take it seriously and I think those that came up hide behind the fact that they bring money into our community but no one asked them to. Locals aren't happy."
Glover said the reason Auckland was placed into lockdown was to stop the spread of coronavirus and if Aucklanders were allowed to travel outside their region, that could put small communities like Mangawhai at serious risk.
"The primary health care here is inadequate. There's no permanent ambulance service and if three people went into respiratory problems, we won't be able to cope.
'It was like summer': Holidaymakers flock to Northland, smashing visitor records
Lockdown protest halts traffic in Whangārei
Covid alert level 2 quashes events around Northland
"I don't want to sound disingenuous to Aucklanders but in this situation, it's about the health of the community."
Operations manager at Gas service station in Mangawhai, Brett Strong, said one confirmed Covid-19 case could be devastating for the small community.
"I asked police at their checkpoint how they allowed people to come through and they said these people have homes up here. Police hands are tied but I think it's risky because you just don't know who's carrying the virus.
"You don't have to knock over a lot of people before it can have an effect on a small community like ours," Strong said.
Another businessman who preferred to remain anonymous urged Aucklanders not to travel to Northland during lockdown.
Exterior plasterer Brian Kaye was out and about at Māori Cove after being unable to travel for work to Auckland.
He lives at Mangawhai Heads but works for a company that does commercial plastering in Huapai, north west of Auckland, and said it was a massive risk having visitors from Auckland.
"They travelled up north before lockdown so I guess there's nothing police can legally do. It's a pretty grey area."
A police spokesman said people were free to travel in and out of Auckland before level 3 restrictions kicked in at midday on Wednesday.
"Police were only in a position to establish the necessary regional checkpoints once Auckland was at alert level 3, which is why the checkpoints were established and operated from midday (Wednesday)."
More than 300 cars were turned back at nearly a dozen checkpoints in Auckland.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said police were reporting attempts by people to travel to their baches.
A steady stream of traffic, mostly driven by essential service workers, drove through the northern-most checkpoint at the intersection of State Highway 1 and Mangawhai Rd yesterday.
Langs Beach resident Roger Brown was allowed to drive south to Wellsford for a blood test and said it was a pity Northlanders were unable to travel anywhere outside the region while others, except Aucklanders, could.
He and wife Jill had made plans to drive to Hawke's Bay next week for a catch-up with family and friends — their first trip south of Auckland since the previous lockdown.
Frank Radisich, a pensioner from Coopers Beach, returned home after spending three weeks with his son who lives in Turua, south of Thames, following a surgery.
He said another lockdown should never have happened but admitted it was for a good reason.