Local police are urging people to follow instructions to stay home to ensure the lockdown period achieves its goal.

In partnership with Whakatāne District Council and local iwi, several public roads have been closed as traffic volumes and people converging continue to increase.

The closed roads include: Maraetotara Road; Burma Road; Harbour Road east of Te Taiawatea Drive; West End carpark; Bunyan Road east; Carrington Lane; Kōhī Point Road – past the last residence; and Muriwai Drive northern carpark – past the last residence.

Senior Sergeant Tristan Murray says the road closures are a direct result of people clearly flouting the rules imposed by the Alert Level 4. “The reality is that if people were really listening to the very strong guidance from the government, they would not venture this far beyond their immediate neighbourhood,” he says.

“Yes, these roads are public roads, but COVID-19 restrictions are in place and people should be thinking of the wider welfare of our communities, rather than being able to ‘go wherever they want to’ for recreation.”

While Senior Sergeant Murray appreciates people are keen for fresh air and exercise, it needs to be within their immediate neighbourhoods. “The only time you should be driving is to get essential supplies, and there should only be one person in the vehicle,” he says. “We are taking extraordinary measures, but these are extraordinary circumstances. Stay home. Save lives. It’s as simple as that.”