Covid 19 coronavirus delta outbreak: Queenstown police deal with lockdown chatterers in snow spot

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August 19, 2021 There are now 21 Delta Covid-19 cases in Auckland, including two in hospital.

Police have been called to a popular tourist spot near Queenstown at least twice today to send snow seekers stranded by Covid-19 home.

Police talk to people showing up at the top of Crown Range Road to play in the snow.  Under Level 4 foreclosure rules, people are supposed to stay at home.  Photo / George Heard
Police talk to people who show up at the top of Crown Range Road to play in the snow. Under Level 4 foreclosure rules, people are supposed to stay home. Photo / George Heard

The Herald was there shortly after noon when police arrived at the top of Crown Range Rd where a number of people were gathered.

Police addressing the lockdown flouting snow seekers atop Crown Range Rd today.  Photo / George Heard
Police addressing the lockdown flouting snow seekers atop Crown Range Rd today. Photo / George Heard

Some were snowboarding, others sledding or playing in the snow.

And there were other dogs walking around.

The area is a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.

It is understood that police were also called to the area this morning to send a group home earlier.

At noon there were six cars in the parking lot.

Given the area is so far from Queenstown, officials are unlikely to find it appropriate for people to be there under current lockdown rules.

As part of the Alert Level 4 restrictions, all New Zealanders have been ordered to “stay at home in their bubble, except for essential personal travel.”

Cars lined up at the top of Crown Range Rd, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.  Photo / George Heard
Cars lined up at the top of Crown Range Rd, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown. Photo / George Heard

“Safe recreational activities” are permitted in a person’s local area and movement is severely restricted.

All gatherings are prohibited and all public places closed.

The message – while clearly clear and simple – does not reach some, however.

A police spokeswoman said officers “noticed” a gathering of people on the lookout at Crown Range around 11:30 am.

No other information was recorded.

“In addition, late in the morning, police received a report of two people seen laundering in Summer Hill around 7 am,” she said.

“In cases like these, police remind people of the restrictions in place below Alert Level 4.

“Any exercise must be local and police urge people to avoid any activity that could lead to a rescue or emergency response, given the risk this poses to our emergency services and SAR volunteers.”

The spokesperson said there are many safe exercise options to do at home or nearby.

“Which means we can stay active while continuing to fight the spread of COVID-19, and without putting others at additional risk,” she said.

Police yesterday reiterated they had low tolerance for illegal gatherings after a number of people left their homes to attend lockdown-related protests across the country.

“And the public can expect us to seek to enforce the current restrictions in place at Alert Level 4,” a spokesperson said.

Some people believe that traveling to play in the snow 45 minutes from Queenstown is within the lockdown rules.  The police were called twice to send them home.  Photo / George Heard
Some people believe that traveling to play in the snow 45 minutes from Queenstown is within the lockdown rules. The police were called twice to send them home. Photo / George Heard

“We urge everyone to stay at home and we will continue to work with our partners and the public to ensure that everyone abides by the restrictions in place below Alert Level 4,” the spokesperson said.

“The vast majority of New Zealanders are doing the right thing and respecting the alert level restrictions, and these protesters represent a very small number of people who are not.

People who break the rules and travel so far from home to participate in leisure activities put them at risk of accidents and require emergency services.

This in turn keeps police, ambulances, firefighters and hospitals away from Covid-related tasks and puts additional pressure on frontline responders – as well as potentially exposing them to the virus.

Yesterday, officers arrested a number of people during one of three protests across the country.

The four were arrested for violating the Health Act notice after a protest in Auckland’s CBD yesterday afternoon.

Four other people were arrested in the morning after an anti-containment protest outside the Tauranga police station.

Police repeatedly attempted to engage with around 20 people gathered outside the station, but four were arrested when they repeatedly refused to comply with Alert Level 4 restrictions.

Tax decisions have yet to be made.

The third protest took place yesterday outside Nelson Police Station.

All those present were questioned and invited to respect the restrictions in place under alert; level 4.

Police said around 20 people received a verbal warning and continued.

-Additional reports George Heard


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