Wellington, November 18, 2021
Police will do random spot checks on Aucklanders leaving the city for summer road trips after travel restrictions ease.
Travel will be allowed into and out of Auckland from December 15, 2021 for the fully vaccinated or those with a negative Covid-19 test.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has said that those travelling should expect to be tested.
“Think about it similar to our approach with breath testing – anywhere, anytime,” he told appearing on Morning Report (Radio New Zealand) today.
Me Coster said that the Police always had discretion when issuing infringement notices but people knew the rules and the unvaccinated should follow them if they wanted to avoid being fined and turned back to get a test.
Random checks by Police
“The reality here is that we all know what the expectation is – we certainly will do by the time the date rolls around. Police would do their best to keep traffic flowing despite the checks. It is a spot-checking approach and hence we are not going to be checking every vehicle, but we will be checking many vehicles and so people should assume that they are likely to get stopped,” he said.
Mr Coster said that there are lots of different places that the Police can choose to do this that will keep the traffic flow going.
Transport Minister Michael Wood told Morning Report that any traffic delays over the summer period would be “a small price to pay” for the additional protection the spot checks would provide.
“I would advise people just to plan for a little bit more time for your journeys, bearing in mind that a lot of Aucklanders are going to want to get out,” he said.
Ensuring smooth transition
Mr Wood said that public health advice had been considered before making the announcement to open Auckland’s borders and the Covid-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light System) would add additional layers of protection.
“This is about how we transition and make sure that we have as much safety and protection built-in as possible,” he said.
According to Mr Wood, while a “hard border” would no longer be in place around Auckland, additional protections were being worked through in areas with lagging vaccination rates to ensure a robust spot-checking system was in place.
“In particular, areas like Northland, where we do know that we want a bit of an extra layer of protection … we expect the police, iwi and community to be working together to provide some extra support there,” he said.
Optimising operational benefits
Mr Coster said that it was likely that other road policing duties such as breath testing could take place at the same time as the border spot checks to “maximise the benefit” of the operation.
“I would expect our people have their eyes open to the whole situation, which means looking at road safety, looking at Covid safety – they go together,” he said.
Extra staff have already been deployed to operate the border in Auckland and Mr Coster expected that more would be required to bolster the police presence on roads around border areas over the summer period.
He could not confirm that all Police working on the border would be double-vaccinated.
But he said that the work on a mandate for constabulary staff was being worked with the government.
“A vast majority of our people are vaccinated and I do not think it is going to be too difficult for us to get over that line,” he said.
Mr Wood said that the Cabinet was working through a potential mandate for Police staff and was on track to confirm the approach before the end of November.
“Whether it is Police or any other group, we do need to take good advice, we need to get it right, we need to make sure that it is legally robust as well,” he said.
-Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz