Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell has asked residents to take self-isolation and the two-metre rule seriously, ahead of New Zealand going into alert level 4 lockdown.

"The first message I want to give you is - the services will still continue, the taps will run, the toilets will flush, and your rubbish will be collected," Powell said.

And the mayor announced a change in access for one of Tauranga's public spaces.

"Mauao will close later today," he said. "We've decided the tracks are too narrow to observe the two-meter rule safely and we have that beautiful expansive main beach for people who want to get out and exercise.

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"We appreciate that everyone wants to look after their mental health as well as their physical health and we encourage everyone to do that but following the two-metre rule."

Lockdown rules stipulate that beaches are accessible only for people who live nearby. Another public amenity to close are playgrounds.

"I know there's been some concern around that. What are we going to do with children isolated and at home? But they're closed for good reason. Surface touching and gathering in larger groups just can't happen," said Mayor Powell.

"In terms of being kind to each other – be kind to everyone. We have a number of tourists who are trapped here in New Zealand. They would much rather be at home. We're hearing really sad stories of tourists being abused in various ways. Please don't do that. Look after them as you would your neighbours and family. We are all in this together.

"In terms of essential services there are a number of shops still open. So please don't panic-buy. There's more than enough to go around at this stage. Supermarkets, chemists, pharmacies will be open. But please if you're going into these premises observe the two-metre rule. Stay away from each other and try not to touch too many surfaces."

Mayor Powell also reiterated the importance of following the self-isolation rules.

"Please self-isolate, please follow those rules. Self-isolation is the one thing we know works. If you are getting out please either go alone or with those whom you are self-isolating.

"The next four weeks are going to be a challenge for everybody. We know that's going to be the case. Please look after each other and particularly those who are most vulnerable."

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