COVID-19: Far North Mayor John Carter lashes out at Northland travellers refusing to cooperate

Far North Mayor John Carter has come out swinging at the COVID-infected travellers who refuse to co-operate with health authorities, effectively keeping the Northland region under extended restrictions

Northland was plunged into a snap alert level 3 lockdown on Friday after two women, who later tested positive for coronavirus, breached the Auckland boundary and refused to cooperate with officials. 

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said officials "may not get any further information from contact tracing interviews so are now relying on other sources of information to piece together their movements".

Hipkins said on Wednesday the uncertainty caused by the duo meant Northland would remain at alert level 3 until at least Monday. Carter said that's more than disappointing.

"It's really, really just arrogance," Carter told Newshub. "The fact is that these two ladies are putting all the rest of us at risk and don't seem to care about Northlanders."

There's also anger from Waikato business owners who are looking for a finish line to COVID-19 restrictions in their region as well.

Parts of Waikato also had their alert level 3 restrictions extended for another five days on Wednesday after two mystery cases of COVID-19 emerged.

Don Good, from Waikato's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said yo-yo-ing between alert levels wasn't just affecting the financial health of businesses.

"It is affecting the wellbeing of not only the owners but equally the staff… worried about the viability of the companies they work for."

Good said hospitality and retail would be hit hard by Wednesday's lockdown extension.

He said many were anticipating a move to alert level 2 on Thursday, allowing them a busy few days of weekend trading.

"Many will have brought in products that they may now have to get rid of," Good said. "In many cases, it's heartbreaking."

Hamilton East-based National MP David Bennett said on Twitter the system was a shambles.

John Carter.
John Carter. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

"These guys never intended to let us out of this alert level... They tell a lot of spin about irrelevancies but won't do their job of protecting our borders."

Hipkins reiterated maintaining alert level 3 in both Northland and Waikato was the safest course of action. Waikato's extension came down to two cases detected on Wednesday that were yet to be linked to the original outbreak.

"At this stage, we don't know how they were infected, we don't yet have a full understanding of who might be involved in the chain of transmission," Hipkins said during Wednesday's COVID-19 press conference.

New Zealand reported 55 new community cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, up from 43 the previous day. However, no more infections have been detected in Northland since the snap lockdown was announced on Friday.

All of the cases were found in Auckland apart from the two mystery infections in Waikato.

In total, there have been 1719 in New Zealand's Delta outbreak.