Traffic was jammed at a highway checkpoint on Auckland’s southern border as police assessed every vehicle entering and exiting the area.
Drivers were warned to expect long delays due to police officers’ highway checkpoints around the Auckland perimeter to impose increased travel restrictions.
The change in the alert level from 1 to 3 overnight has led to the re-emergence of the strict criteria for road movement into and out of the region.
Large queues are now forming around Mercer heading south with traffic jammed along the Waikato Toll Road almost back to Pokeno.
While police said there were no significant waiting times, TimeSaver Traffic reported that the Mercer road block was by far the biggest choke point in the area causing long traffic queues.
There were also brief delays at Mangatawhiri and Brynderwyn.
All inter-regional travel to and from Auckland is now restricted to essential movements until 11:59 pm Wednesday.
People who wish to cross now need to carry official documents issued by Government departments.
Eight checkpoints on the outskirts of Auckland will stop vehicles and question drivers, ensuring there is no unimportant movement throughout the area.
The New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi warned people crossing the border that they had to wait.
“Please expect delays at the State Highway police checkpoint which operates 24/7 both north and south of Auckland each day until the warning level changes.
“If you are traveling for an important purpose, or have been exempted from travel, please be patient at the checkpoint with the expected queues.
“Allow extra time for your trip and make sure you have the supporting documentation needed for the presentation to help alleviate delays.”
This time the border has been moved away from the August lockdown with checkpoints at Wellsford to the north and Bombay Hills to the south.
The final checkpoints are at Brynderwyn at the intersection of State Highway 1 and 12 at the north and south ends of Meremere on State Highway 1 (north, on Oram Rd), and Mercer (south, on Koheroa Rd) on State Highway 1 and Mangatawhiri ( on Koheroa Rd) on State Highway 2.
This has led to a degree of confusion with residents living in the reassigned checkpoint zones in Waikato and Northland unsure whether they are at alert level 2 or 3.
Police say they will be highly visible across the region to provide bail and to educate people and make sure they are aware of the restrictions that apply.
Commissioner Andrew Coster said this was not new territory for the police or the community, and lessons learned from the past have allowed staff to move quickly to respond to changing levels of vigilance.
“We will continue to work with a tiered response, starting with education. We once again ask the public to be safe and comply with the alert level limits for their territory.
“In Auckland, we will continue to be visible and provide reassurance to the community, and to checkpoints around the boundaries of the Super City in the region.”
Those who need to cross the border will need to seek permission from the government website Unite Against Covid-19 which warns that travel will be strictly restricted.
People are told to apply for official business travel documents.
“Exceptions will be limited to critical activity only. Requests must meet criteria and many requests will not be approved,” the website suggests.
For those who wish to cross the border for personal business, the form will be processed by the Ministry of Health.
People are advised to check if they are eligible to travel between different regions of the country.