COVID-19: Some essential workers turned away at Auckland border despite being entitled to cross last lockdown

Police are warning people trying to get through COVID-19 checkpoints with outdated documentation, they'll be turned away.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says it's now issued over 3300 businesses with exemption documents so staff can travel between alert level 4 and level 3.

Wednesday marked the first day for five checkpoints on Auckland's southern border with Waikato.

Police Inspector Kay Lane says a dedicated truck lane again ensured freight flowed easily, and officers have had few problems with motorists.

"They've got the QR code, they've got their driver's license ID and that makes it seamless for us. There's been a really good attitude coming through the checkpoints."

The only issue is people "do need a reminder that they need updated letters from MBIE not documents from previous lockdowns."

Around 30 people tried their luck and got the "home you go" instruction.

Newshub witnessed one carload trying to get through the Waikato-Auckland border who told police they were "unaware Auckland was in level 4".

Appliance repairer Neil Abbott had an exemption to cross the border last time to Pukekohe for emergencies like broken freezers.

He applied two days ago to MBIE and had heard nothing. 

"This is more of a moral situation than a money situation, you know, these people need help" he says. 

Only essential workers, those off to medical appointments, court, anyone with shared childcare, or caring for animals or the critically ill are likely to get an exemption.

Whangarei's Lesley Armstrong is on her own recovering from major surgery, got an exemption for her Queenstown daughter to fly up but there are no flights.

She says her Auckland daughter's been told she won't get an exemption to cross the border when Whangarei moves to level 3.

Meanwhile communities like Glen Murray are scratching their heads over the border and checkpoint rules.

On one side of Glen Murray road it's level 3 and the other it's level 4.

To abide by the law, Warren Shirtcliffe and his family on the level 4 side of the road, have to do a 60 kilometre round trip north through the checkpoint and back down the motorway, just to go supermarket shopping.

"It's crazy going up the motorway towards covid and the shops are just down the road... one way is safe, the other is not safe."

Police say they will take a pragmatic approach to such cases, for those out to blatantly flout the law there'll be less patience.