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Source: Auckland Council

Aucklanders are heading out to beaches and parks across the region and ignoring Alert Level 3 instructions, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Chair Councillor Alf Filipaina says it is disappointing to hear of large numbers of people flocking to popular places, disregarding clear government guidance to stay home and stay local when exercising.

“We’re experiencing stunning spring-like weather in Auckland this weekend but that is no excuse to flout the rules.

“While it’s ok to go for a walk at your local park or beach – that is, set out on foot from home or drive a short distance to a local site – it’s not ok to pack up the family and head to a spot on the other side of the region.

“The result is large groups of people unable to safely keep their distance, plus this puts pressure on the very limited services, like car parks and public toilets, that we can offer under this alert level. It’s also important that our staff can manage visitors and themselves safely,” he says.

The council has followed all government advice and closed facilities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

“Playgrounds, skate and bike parks are closed; people must stay off outdoor exercise equipment, away from basketball hoops and off park benches.

“Yet we’re still hearing that playgrounds are alive with children, families are using on-park equipment and park benches are all being used.

“We have closed all but around 200 public toilets – these remain open for workers that still need to carry out essential services.

“These rules are in place for your health and wellbeing, it’s important to follow them,” says Cr Filipaina.

Muriwai Beach is one of the areas affected by this behaviour. Auckland Council has had reports of queues of cars more than 2km long at Muriwai Beach, influxes of people using toilets, padlocks and chains cut on closed gates (for example at Coast Road in Muriwai, Cornwallis and along Scenic Drive in the Waitākere Ranges).

“Barriers are in place for a reason and when visitors damage public property they not only break the rules and but are breaking the law,” says Cr Filipaina.

Exercise and recreation under Alert Level 3

  • Playgrounds, skate parks, cycle parks and exercise equipment closed
  • Public toilets closed
  • You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area, for example to go for a walk or a run, a swim at the beach or a day walk.
  • Regional parks are open for exercise. Tramping and mountain biking is available for experienced users that know the trails. Visitor centres are closed. Some toilets and all facilities are closed. There is no vehicle access (walk-in is ok). Campground, baches and lodges are closed.
  • Recreational fishing is allowed from public conservation land as long as you stay in your local area.
  • Boating, yachting and any team sports or training are not allowed.
  • You can do recreational activities by yourself or with people from your bubble.

Find out more about public toilets open under Alert Level 3 here.

Find out more about council services here.

Signs at parks and playgrounds

Auckland Council has nearly 1,000 playgrounds. Most of these will have signs in place relating to hygiene guidance for Alert Level 1. Director Customer and Community Services Claudia Wyss says with the speed that this week’s lockdown was put in place, the council is still rolling out replacements for these signs.

“Now that we are in an extended lockdown period, new signs will be installed on playgrounds and park facilities – getting around nearly 1,000 sites takes time and priority is given to facilities like toilets in the first instance.

“Regardless of the signs up at your local playground, the message for Alert Level 3 is that all playgrounds are closed and kids should stay off them until that status changes.

“These rules are for everyone’s safety,” says Dr Wyss.

Recreation under Alert Level 3

Can I drive to do a recreation activity? 

You can drive within your region (or local area if you live near a regional boundary), to do a recreation activity. Stick to the option closest to home, and stay safe.

Can I go to the beach or park?

You can visit a beach or park in your region, or local area if near a regional boundary – try to visit the closest one to home. Make sure you stay 2 metres away from others. If the beach or park is busy, go home and try again later.  Avoid using any common equipment touched by people from outside your bubble.

Can I go mountain biking?

Mountain biking is okay if you are experienced and know the trail. Stick to easy trails. Make sure you maintain a 2-metre distance from other people.

Can I enjoy the outdoors, go tramping?

You can go on day walks on easy trails in your region.  Note that all DOC huts, campsites and lodges in the Auckland region will be closed under Alert Level 3.

Can I go hunting?

You can hunt on both private and public conservation land, however game bird hunting is not allowed. 

Can I go out on the water?

For the Auckland Region under Alert Level 3. Until further notice, all recreational water-based activities involving sailing boats, motorised craft or motorised equipment, are not permitted. Scuba diving is also not permitted under Alert Level 3.  Kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, wind surfing and paddle boarding are permitted, however we recommend that the Auckland public undertake these activities within 200 metres from shore.   Water-based activities that present a level of risk that could result in the need for search and rescue services, are discouraged. Anyone planning any water-based activities should check the conditions and possible changes in conditions before approaching the water.  Anybody taking to the water during Alert Level 3 should assess their competency level against the prevailing water and weather conditions (e.g. high winds, cold water temperature, large waves, or rips) to decide whether they can comfortably handle the conditions. If in doubt, we advise people to stay at home.

Can I go fishing?

You can go fishing from the beach or a wharf. You should not fish from rocks or a boat because these can result in needing assistance or rescuing. Don’t take risks that might mean rescue services have to break their bubble to help you.

Can I play team sports or do team training?

Stay in your bubble. Team sports or training outside of your bubble are not allowed.  Avoid using any common equipment touched by people from outside your bubble.

Can I go to the gym?

Gyms are closed under Level 3.