New Zealand, which reported 1,474 confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus and 19 deaths, spent almost five weeks in a strict, level four setting. The country eased its level three restrictions on Tuesday, which means that some children can return to school and 400,000 people have been able to return to work.
But for many, it was an opportunity to finally eat the fast food they wanted. Under level three restrictions, a limited number of restaurants and cafes have been allowed to reopen. According to TVNZ, this has resulted in long queues of cars at KFC and McDonald’s point-of-sale locations in Auckland, the country’s largest city.
And at a hamburger meeting in Auckland, the crowd was so large that the police were called.
“We were called to a small number of incidents last night where people did not adhere to social distancing,” said a police spokesman, adding that one was in Glenfield on the north coast of ‘Auckland. “There was a large group assembled, the police were present and education was provided to ensure a better and safer process. “
“The first day of the reopening saw our BurgerFuel stores inundated with a rush of customers, far beyond what we expected,” the spokesman said on Wednesday.
BurgerFuel will now only accept online orders, and all outlets will have to have a crowd controller at the store, the spokesperson said.
The police spokesman said he received another call where someone feared the road would be blocked by traffic to get into the drive-thru. “Our call must have informed them that it was actually the queue,” said the spokesperson.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that officials had been in touch with BurgerFuel’s headquarters to make sure they understood their obligations.
“They certainly did not fulfill these obligations last night,” she said.
She said the police recorded 104 offenses in the first 18 hours after the level four rules were lifted. There were also 742 complaints from non-compliant companies, with most complaints regarding the lack of social distancing measures in place.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has also urged people to continue to follow the rules of social distancing, especially when it comes to restaurants.
“I know everyone is happy to return to some sort of normalcy with things like takeout, coffee and some physical activity, but I’m concerned about the lack of social distancing that we see,” said he said in a statement. “We have to continue a little longer. “
Under current social distancing measures, the New Zealand government advises citizens to stay 2 meters (6.5 feet) away from people when they are outside.