Motorists are being urged to take it easy this weekend as hotels and temporary accommodation venues scramble to meet a spike in bookings following the end of lockdown.
Police issued a warning this week for anyone planning a getaway before workers return in their droves to the office and children to school on Monday, following the move to alert level 2 on Thursday.
The police now also have powers to potentially enter homes without warrants while enforcing Covid-19 alert level rules of no more than 10 people at a gathering.
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The plea for safe driving comes as hotels and temporary accommodation providers report an upsurge in bookings for the weekend and onward, with one hotelier saying the return of accommodation bookings was instant.
Rotorua's Prince's Gate Boutique Hotel general manager Yuri Ponstijn said he was watching Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement on Monday when she revealed the move to level 2 would happen at midnight Wednesday.
"I was sitting there thinking 'Yeah this is awesome' and the phone rings. I answered the phone and the person was like 'Hey Jacinda just said we're going to level 2, can I book for the weekend?'.
"After that the phone didn't stop ringing for about half an hour, and online bookings came in as well."
Ponstijn said the bookings went from zero to a hotel more than 60 per cent full for the weekend, with bookings going into next week, Queen's Birthday Weekend in early June and into July.
"It's such a relief. Just joy. Just happy - it's so good. It's super encouraging after six weeks of just nothing really."
He had taken bookings from Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton and "all over" for the 52-room hotel.
A Bookabach spokeswoman said there had been a 60 per cent increase in searches for accommodation last week, and most popular regions were Northland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.
"This sudden increase in intent to travel is a good sign for travel locally and we look forward to working with local tourism authorities on this road to recovery."
She said Bookabach had implemented Covid-19 guidelines for bach owners to ensure comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting of homes.
One Coromandel bach owner said she had been contacted by Auckland guests last weekend who were already anticipating the move to level 2.
"They wanted to book on the provision that they would get a full refund if level 2 didn't happen. I think people are just really keen to get out of the city for the weekend."
Together with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, police were urging anyone getting back behind the wheel, whether it be to head on a mini-break, commuting workers, or parents dropping children at school, to take extra care on the roads.
National road policing manager Acting Superintendent Gini Welch said some people may not have driven for seven weeks during alert levels 4 and 3, or might only have taken short trips to the supermarket.
"So we may be feeling a bit rusty behind the wheel or overwhelmed by the amount of cars back on the road again," Welch said.
"We expect there will be a lot of people out and about this weekend, meeting up with family and friends they haven't been able to see since before alert level 4."
She said drivers were still speeding in lockdown and people needed to slow down.
"We know people will be keen to get a bit of normalcy back in their lives and head to their favourite cafe, the hairdresser, or visit malls with friends.
"We'll also have children returning to schools on Monday. So it's important we remember to all take it easy on the roads this weekend and to slow down around schools next week."
Welch said it was also a good time for parents to remind children and teens about road safety.
"Our kids have likely become accustomed to carless roads, so there's a chance they may be a bit more complacent when they're crossing roads."
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency road safety senior manager Fabian Marsh said the roads would be much busier with the move to level 2, and he urged motorists to drive carefully, be alert, keep to the speed limit, and share the road.