- New Zealand police arrested two men smuggling KFC chicken and $US100,000 ($AU137,755) in cash into Auckland.
- This is the second arrest involving illegal fast-food hauls amid the city’s strict COVID-19 lockdown.
- As businesses reopened at midnight, the line at one Auckland McDonald’s overflowed around the corner.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Two New Zealand men were arrested on Sunday after attempting to cross the Auckland border with a car “full” of Kentucky Fried Chicken, french fries, and 10 tubs of coleslaw, according to local police.
The police identified the pair as “gang associates” and found over $US10,000 ($AU13,776) in cash and empty ounce bags alongside large amounts of fast food.
According to authorities, “the vehicle did a u-turn and sped off trying to evade police,” after they noticed the car driving down a gravel road near the border.
Auckland officials are enforcing strict travel restrictions amid a city-wide lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases. With restaurants closed, residents who break travel rules to purchase fast food outside the city risk fines up to $US8,400 ($AU11,571) or six months of jail time.
This is the second set of charges this month involving illicit takeaway food. Last week, a 20-year-old man was charged for breaking health orders as he left Auckland in search of McDonald’s, which he documented on TikTok.
As businesses reopened Tuesday at midnight, 40 cars were waiting in line outside a West Auckland McDonald’s at 12:30 am, according to Stuff, New Zealand’s largest news site. By 1 am, eager customers clogged the road and wrapped around the corner.
Hell Pizza chief executive Ben Cumming told Stuff reporter Glenn McConnell that Auckland fast-food outlets are anticipating around double their normal demand as the city downgrades from Level 4 to Level 3 restrictions.
In a statement, New Zealand Police said they are “pleased with the actions of the majority of people adhering to the Alert Level restrictions, but are disappointed by the small number of people who deliberately flout the rules.”
Since the Level 4 lockdown was put in place, police say 86 people have been charged with a total of 90 offenses, the majority of which were failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
On Friday, fines for COVID-19 rule-breakers were raised by over $US5000 ($AU6,888) as authorities expressed concern about the Delta variant spreading beyond Auckland and into other regions, Reuters reported.
“Our success has been really based on the fact that people by and large have been compliant,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference. “However, there has been the odd person that has broken the rules and put others at risk.”