Two fishermen in Auckland are on the run from police after they were caught flouting lockdown rules put in place yesterday.
A quick-thinking member of the public caught them hook, line and sinker, grabbing photos of the men before they fled the Bucklands Beach area.
Police officers arrived shortly after they left the ramp, however, they remained on the water this evening, a police spokesman said.
A woman, who asked not to be named, snapped the two fishermen waiting to be picked up by a friend at the south end of Bucklands Beach boat ramp.
Equipped with four fishing rods, the fishermen and a dog arrived at the East Auckland ramp in their “16-to-20-foot-sized tinny” around 2pm.
When they were nearly at the beach, one of the men called someone on their cellphone asking to be picked up, the woman told the Herald.
“They pulled up almost onto the beach and I walked down and said ‘hey guys, smile’ they turned around and I got a photo of them,” the woman said.
“That’s when they were on the phone saying they were back and their mate could come and get them.
“There was no car with a trailer at the beach, they had obviously been dropped off.”
Fishing, swimming, surfing, hunting and tramping were banned yesterday under new lockdown rules.
The woman flagged down a local officer who was driving past at the time of the incident.
The off-duty officer spoke to people about the incident before calling for another police unit to attend, the spokesman told the Herald.
The woman said the off-duty officer blocked the boat ramp, however, the spokesman denied that was the case.
“The occupants of the dinghy left the immediate area before the on-duty officers arrived and currently remain out on the water,” the spokesman said around 5pm.
The fishermen headed out towards the harbour where the woman suspected they were heading to Eastern Beach or Howick Beach around the corner.
“They’ve now left the estuary and the second police car has just arrived,’ the woman told the Herald about 2.30pm.
“We suspect they’ll be going to Eastern Beach or Howick Beach or somewhere like that to try and retrieve the boat.
“I would suspect they would be very local because anyone towing a boat, it would be really suspicious.”
The fishermen were not the first law-breakers the woman saw, another boat with an adult and child flew down the estuary sometime before.
Fisheries New Zealand had been notified about the incident and police were still monitoring the matter, the police spokesman said.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced the new laws in a health notice to help the country move out of lockdown as soon as possible.
The notice was welcomed by newly-appointed Police Commissioner Andrew Coster who said they would arrest law-breakers.
“The Health Notice makes it clear what types of outdoor exercise and recreation people shouldn’t do,” Coster said.
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“We want people to stay safe, but if a small number of people persist in deliberately flouting the restrictions, police will have the discretion to warn or, if necessary, to arrest.
“Outside of that, we are asking people to stay local, apply common sense and not do anything that could risk exposure to injury or require search and rescue services.”
There were 67 new cases of Covid-19 announced by Bloomfield earlier today, which brought the total number of cases to 1106.
There had been no additional deaths and 176 people had recovered, the Director-General of Health said.