Densely-packed crowds queuing for burgers are sparking fears that New Zealand's escape from coronavirus during the lockdown will be short-lived.

A photo shared on social media shows a crowd of at least 30 people standing closely together outside BurgerFuel in Glenfield on Auckland's North Shore around 9pm last night.

Another photo sent to the Herald shows 13 men, apparently delivery drivers waiting to collect orders, waiting outside McDonald's in Grey Lynn at 3pm.

North Shore councillor Richard Hills retweeted the Glenfield photo with the comment, "Oh man, I'm worried for us."


Police said they were called to the scene and "education was given".

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said images of people congregating as they picked up takeaways and visited parks and beaches were of concern, and called on Aucklanders to continue to follow social distancing rules.

Many people commented on the Glenfield community Facebook page worrying that "before we know it, these sorts of people would put us back to level 4", and urging Burger Fuel to put marks on the footpath to keep people 2 metres apart.

One resident who was waiting for a bus outside the burger outlet said: "I felt so uncomfortable standing there waiting for a bus to go home. Burger Fuel need to get a better system that's just putting too many at risk."

Dan Arakawa, who first posted the photo, said: "I know people are getting sick of lockdown but we are NOT in normal life aren't we???? We can do this better and hope this will get sorted."

Just walk passed this!!! This shit was insane!! How come people standing closer than social distance that we still have...

Posted by Dan Arakawa on Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Under the rules for alert level 3 takeaway outlets can operate only "if you have pre-ordered contactless pick up or can provide home delivery".

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A Police spokeswoman said that "overall, police across Auckland were really happy with the behaviour yesterday with the reopening of fast food outlets and other restaurants".


"We were called to a small number of incidents last night where people weren't adhering to social distancing," she said.

"One of these was a takeaway outlet in Glenfield. There was a large group congregating, police attended and education was given to ensure a better and safer process.

"We just remind people to ensure they continue to keep a good distance from other members of our community and also understand that there may be queues to get your favourite takeaway so please continue to have patience.

"Police received one call to 111 where a person was concerned that the road was blocked with traffic to get into a drive-through. Our call taker had to inform them that, that was in fact the queue. So please do not call 111 unless it is an emergency."

A spokesman for McDonald's said the Grey Lynn restaurant where delivery drivers were photographed outside the door was "by some margin the biggest restaurant for Uber Eats in the country".

Uber Eats delivery drivers wait outside McDonald's in Grey Lynn yesterday. Photo / Supplied
Uber Eats delivery drivers wait outside McDonald's in Grey Lynn yesterday. Photo / Supplied

"While we have developed new physical distancing and contactless service procedures, and restaurants had traffic management plans in place, the volume of customers definitely caused some challenges when we reopened on Tuesday," he said.


"At some restaurants we had third party delivery drivers congregating, waiting for orders. We had signage in place and restaurant managers asked drivers to observe social distancing, but in some cases this was ignored.

"We have spoken with our delivery partners and asked them to remind their drivers of distancing protocols, and we have taken additional steps with security and signage at our restaurants.

"We thank everyone for their patience on Tuesday, and expect the initial rush to calm down today. We will continue to review our approach with physical distancing and contactless service as we adapt along with our customers to operating under alert level 3."

However, the crowd at Glenfield appeared to be customers who may have pre-ordered and were waiting for their own burgers. One person commented on Facebook: "I assume people were so close because they needed to hear them call out when their order was ready, not a good system!"

Others suggested that BurgerFuel should ask people to wait in their cars and ring them when their orders were ready.

The company announced on Facebook around midday that its website had crashed due to increased traffic.


"In the meantime, you can Google your local store and place a contactless phone order for At Store Pick Up. You can also download our app in the app store and try place your order that way," it said.

The website was restored two hours later.

Goff said he was concerned about "the lack of social distancing we are seeing".

"If you are congregating, intentionally or unintentionally, to get food or coffee or at the park, this is going to hinder the good work we have all done over the five weeks of level 4 lockdown," he said.

"Aucklanders have done a really good job at level 4 and that has meant we have saved lives. We must continue to do that.

"The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that we need to continue to be vigilant and we cannot slip back into our pre-lockdown habits. I know this is hard, especially after more than a month of being in level 4, but we need to keep going for a little while longer.


"Please remember that playgrounds are still not to be used. You have to stand two metres apart if you are waiting in line. Still limit your travel and extending your bubble. We need to follow these rules if we are going to successfully go from level 3 to level 2.

"No one wants a return to level 4 lockdown again, but that will all be dependent on how well each and every one of us follows social distancing rules."

BurgerFuel has also been asked for comment.

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