Plenty of excuses given at Easter police checkpoints

Video: Geoff Sloan

Police were out in force on Good Friday in a bid to stop Cantabrians leaving home for the holidays.

In Amberley, officers joked there were more police and media on the road than regular motorists. 

The Easter weekend checkpoints are being set up around the country in case anyone thinks they can ignore the lockdown restrictions and escape to their holiday spot for the long weekend.

State Highway 1, which runs through the Amberley, had almost no traffic.

Police stop motorists at a checkpoint in  Amberley. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Police stop motorists at a checkpoint in Amberley. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Canterbury rural area commander Inspector Peter Cooper said he was pleased the public were heeding the rules.

"We've done several of these checkpoints around Canterbury this morning and last night, and generally people are well and truly aware of the requirements," Cooper said.

"We're not seeing a lot of movement today."

Police are staying tight-lipped on where roadblocks will be placed to prevent non-essential travel this Easter.

However, a few motorists were still caught breaking the rules. Police have been given a wide variety of excuses, Cooper says, with one driver trying to claim he was on the way to the supermarket even though they are all closed. 

"One of the reasons we're here is to make sure that people realise that going to their holiday home is a luxury we can't afford."

The police checkpoint in Amberley. Photo: RNZ / Anan Zaki
The police checkpoint in Amberley. Photo: RNZ / Anan Zaki
Another motorist stopped at the Amberley checkpoint told police he was "just out for a stroll" while sitting in his vehicle. "I've been cooped up at home," he declared as an officer took down his name and details.

Cooper said checkpoints will be up and running throughout the long weekend.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Andrew Wallace was manning a checkpoint on State Highway 1 north of Auckland, which would normally see traffic backed-up bumper to bumper on Good Friday.

"Most people have been compliant," he said. 

"The main things we're seeing in terms of people not complying is groups of people heading off to the supermarket when really one person should be doing that job.

"We have caught the occasional person heading for a surf up north. Those people have been turned around after they've been educated, and they may receive a warning as well."

One person was travelling from Orewa to Omaha - a drive of at least 20 minutes - to walk their dog, he said.

"One has to wonder whether the beach in Orewa is still there," said Wallace.

A police checkpoint on SH1 in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Matthew Theunissen
A police checkpoint on SH1 in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Matthew Theunissen

- Geoff Sloan and RNZ

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