Limitations will be placed on people moving in and out of the Te Whānau a Apanui rohe on the east coast from midday today as a community safe zone is set up to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Ōpōtiki mayor Lyn Riesterer said Ōpōtiki District Council, New Zealand Police, health agencies and industry had been working closely with Te Whānau a Apanui to ensure plans were in place for essential services and crucial goods in and out of the area marked by the settlements of Hāwai and Pōtaka.

"This is the community's way to putting the national restrictions into action at a community level. This is to protect their kaumātua and this is the best way they can do so," Riesterer said. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website



Iwi leader Rikirangi Gage said the risks posed by COVID-19 needed swift action to protect the elders but that goods and services that needed to travel into and through the rohe could continue.

"This rāhui part of a bigger kaupapa - a bigger piece of work to ensure the safety of our kaumātua and other vulnerable community members.

"And it is also saying to people who just want to come through the rohe to fish or tourists or cyclists and holidaymakers, don't come."

He said every person that came in brought the risk of Covid-19 with them and isolated and vulnerable communities could not take that risk.

Eastern Bay of Plenty Police said they were committed to providing support to Te Whānau a Apanui in the establishment of a community safety zone along that section of State Highway 35.

The safety zone is primarily aimed at restricted unnecessary traffic into the East Cape and traffic management will be in place.

"In the present environment, people intending to visit this part of the East Cape for non-essential reasons will be directed elsewhere. It's a small inconvenience but important that we all do what we can to reduce risk," Acting Area Commander Stuart Nightingale said.