Workers at a Northland beachside community were turned around at police checkpoints this morning, shocked to discover they are part of the Auckland lockdown.
And a Northland civic leader is annoyed about a lack of clarity around which areas are affected by the change in Covid alert levels announced by the Government overnight.
Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith said the information he received was that police border checkpoints have been set up on the south side of the Brynderwyn Hills on State Highway 1, Mountain Rd in Maungaturoto, and along Robert Hastie Drive in Mangawhai.
"It's extremely confusing and I am seeking clarification from the central Government because as far as I am concerned, the community needs to know what's happening."
But the Rodney-based Labour list MP Marja Lubeck says the region is under alert level 2 and residents of these townships should be able to move freely without the need for travel exemptions.
Speaking to Mahurangi Matters, Lubeck said reports that Kaiwaka, Oneriri and Mangawhai were in lockdown were incorrect. Police checkpoints had been placed north of the regional border for convenience.
She said it appeared there had been a misinterpretation of advice when it came to checkpoint locations and restrictions on residents.
Those living in the Kaipara District ought to be able to travel north through checkpoints without restriction, she told Mahurangi Matters.
A Covid response official said moves to clarify the situation were under way.
Smith said from the little information he received from the Government, Mangawhai and Kaiwaka fell in the Auckland region, hence level 3 lockdown applied.
Citing an example, Smith said he and other people in Kaipara had been in the dark as to whether students living in Kaiwaka who attended Otamatea College in Maungaturoto would be allowed to attend school today.
Northland is on level 2.
This morning a Mangawhai resident said a number of people heading for work 20km away at Waipū were turned back by police at a roadblock.
The woman, who did not want to be named, said there was considerable confusion among locals over the latest alert level boundary, with official websites contradicting each other.
"It's really crazy," she said.
"We've got thousands of people living here and they need to know whether to go to work or not. It's quite a big deal at the moment."
She urged authorities to clearly spell out the situation.
Kaiwaka fire chief John Bowmar echoed similar sentiments, questioning why the borders have been changed this time round.
He said Kaiwaka School was closed but he wasn't sure about any other school in the vicinity.
Mikayla Beets works in Mangawhai and said she was allowed through the checkpoint at Brynderwyns to go to work, even though she wasn't an essential worker.
She lives in Maungaturoto and works at a nursery.
"I somewhat agree with the borders being shifted this time around, just to make it easier with less checkpoints, however there needs to be more clarity over what levels we are in and in what areas.
"I woke up this morning not expecting to come across border control as they said Auckland only, and I'm not sure whether they will be as lenient in letting me go through tomorrow.
"There certainly needs to be more updated information on the government websites, which is what we should be able to rely on."
Mangawhai Carters store services manager Kathy Parnell said after the Sunday night announcement that Auckland would be at level 3 with the rest of the country at level 2, staff had arrived at the Mangawhai Village-based workplace on Monday assuming they'd be operating at level 2. However, police checkpoints and a message from Kaipara District mayor Jason Smith indicated otherwise.
"We have been totally confused as to whether we operate at level 3 or level 2. We had roadblocks this morning stopping our staff from the north coming into Mangawhai to work but none from the Auckland boundary where, in last lockdown, we had to issue letters for them.
"Our Kaipara mayor made a Facebook announcement to say that we are level 3 but local businesses are operating, some at level 2 and others at level 3."
Indeed, the message on mayor Smith's page read: "From midnight tonight Mangawhai, Kaiwaka and Oneriri all go into level 3 lockdown with Auckland. Other parts of Kaipara District at level 2. This is a new alignment of regional borders for the Covid alerts. Please take special note of this, as it is not at the same location as earlier lockdowns. Stay safe everyone. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou."
Parnell said because Carters had decided to err on the side of caution by operating at level 3, they were losing customers to their rivals, who were operating at level 2.
"We're copping a lot of flak with customers who are going up the road to the opposition but we're sticking with level 3 and operating a 'dark store' with no contact and a click and collect."
Parnell said two of her staff members had been stopped north of Mangawhai at Cove Rd by police who had told them they would need a letter from their employer to cross the boundary again. Staff members travelling from the south to get to work had not been stopped at all, indicating that Mangawhai was being classed at level 3, along with Auckland.
"The police at the Cove Rd boundary told our manager that we are now level 3 in Mangawhai and yet on the council website and the Covid website, we are in the level 2 area. I telephoned the council and they don't even know what level they are."
The Kaipara District Council (KDC) site said: "Currently police checkpoints are on the north side of Kaiwaka and Mangawhai. We are confirming with the Ministry of Health whether Mangawhai and Kaiwaka are included in the level 3 lockdown and restrictions, and will update you here, and on our website, as soon as we know."
Confusion about the border was also causing disruption for tradespeople, the NZ Plumbers, Drainlayers and Gasfitters Association said.
"We have quite a few different people confused about that because now apparently Mangawhai is part of level 3," president Glen Burr said.
He said businesses should have been consulted about where the boundaries would be and tradies needed a clear definition of alert level border locations.