Southland stores were quieter on Thursday as the lockdown began
There was an eerie calm around Invercargill as the city settled into its first day of New Zealand's month-long lockdown.
"It's more peaceful and quiet," Tane Tamati said while taking a stroll through Queen's Park with Jason Tamati on Thursday afternoon.
Jason said he'd gotten out of the house to give his lad some space while he was studying online.
He was pleased with how much quieter Invercargill was on Wednesday night already.
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Brendan Kerr was out for a cycle and said he was just trying to keep busy.
He was finding the lockdown tough because he had a 14 and a nine-year-old at home who just wanted to go out.
Kerr said he was surprised by how many people he'd seen in the park and how many cars were on the roads.
Southland area commander Inspector Mike Bowman said police had been stopping cars throughout Southland to make sure people understood what the lockdown meant.
The day started with a car accident when police and St John were called to the the intersection of West Plains Road and Gloucester Street just after 9.30 am where a man had crashed his car into a pole.
He was taken to Southland Hospital with moderate injuries.
Bowman said there seemed to be a bit of confusion about what was allowed, so police were focusing on education.
"Hopefully people will take the advice we've given them and we won't need to move up a level," he said.
According to Government's Covid-19 website, people may only travel by car or bike when they need to access essential services like buying groceries or going to the doctor.
Bowman noted that many of the drivers who had been stopped thanked police for their presence and for taking the lockdown seriously.
Police officers had also been walking through supermarkets and generally increasing their visibility.
"It makes people feel reassured," Bowman said.
Other than a few routine call outs, Bowman said Thursday had been "pretty quiet" for Southland police.
Grocery stores were noticeably emptier than usual on Thursday.
Allied Security guard Tony McMullien said he'd seen a "slow, but steady" stream of people through the doors at Countdown Waikiwi.
"Everyone seems to keep a good distance from each other," he said.
McMullien was greeting customers at the shop's entrance, asking them to use hand sanitiser before entering.
"Most people are pretty obliging," he said.
SuperValue Plaza Invercargill assistant manager Gillian Bowie said the store was a lot quieter than during the past few days.
"There wasn't that panic shopping going on today."
The store was making sure customers kept a physical distance while staff had been kept to a minimum and the store's evening meals service had been stopped, Bowie said
Face masks weren't a mandatory requirement from Government, but some staff members were still wearing them, she said.
The store had arranged for Perspex screens to be installed at tills.
New World Windsor owner Ashley Hunter said Foodstuffs would be providing its perspex screens.
He hoped they would arrive by the end of the week, he said.
In the meantime, the store was limiting the number of customers in store by limiting trolley numbers to 80.
Each trolley would be sanitised before being used again, Hunter said.
The store was quieter on Thursday – a nice break from the busyness of previous days.
Fuel stations in the city were also quieter, with many taking steps to limit interaction with customers.
Waikiwi Motors had placed a big table in front of its counter to keep people at a distance.
At Z Station in Gladstone, staff were helping customers through a small window instead of letting them enter the store.
The Southland Times