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Maccas mayhem as New Zealand ends lockdown

New Zealanders eager for their first taste of McDonalds in more than a month have lined up before dawn in drive-through lanes as Kiwis celebrate the end of their brutal lockdown.

On Tuesday, the New Zealand government lifted the most extreme measures of its response to COVID-19.

For many Kiwis, that meant a return to work.

For others, it meant getting stuck into takeaway.

Jacinda Ardern’s government banned all restaurants operating during the five-week, level-four lockdown, making New Zealanders reliant on supermarkets and local dairies for food.

With the restrictions lifted, many went straight for the golden arches.

In New Plymouth, the local McDonalds store had customers waiting in line at the drive-through from 3:30am, with 40 cars in line when the store opened at 5:00am, according to Radio NZ.

It was a similar story in North Island coastal town Gisborne, where drone footage showed dozens of cars in a queue spanning several blocks, eager to get their beloved Maccy Ds.

That was one of several sites around New Zealand where councils had to respond to the giant queues, deploying traffic cones to create makeshift lanes so other vehicles could still pass.

Hutt South MP Chris Bishop was one of many to post his McDonalds and takeaway coffee haul online, posting on Twitter “It’s hard to explain how good this tastes”.

In Porirua, NZME reporter Jason Pine said there were 21 cars waiting to be served at 4:40am.

While Tuesday’s frivolity has been an event out of the box, there’s no denying New Zealand has a problem with fast food.

New Zealand is the third-fattest country in the OECD, with even worse figures for children, according to the organisation’s Obesity Update 2017.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the end of level-four restrictions wasn’t a day to attack indulgent Kiwis.

“I don’t want to be preachy on this. I was pretty keen to get a takeaway coffee,” he said.

“People are enjoying the opportunity so I’m not going to pass judgement.

“One observation I will make, though, is that there’s been a lot of people being out being physically active in alert level four.

“Walking, cycling – we’ll all be feeling the better for that. I’ll encourage everybody to … maintain that regular physical activity.”

The arrival of level-three restrictions also gives Kiwis a broader suite of exercise choices.

Surfing is back on the menu, with many New Zealanders taking their first chance to head back into the waves on Tuesday, along with swimmers and paddlers.

Hunting and tramping is also allowed in some scenarios, with Dr Bloomfield keen to emphasise physical distancing measures remain in place.

“It is still important not to congregate outside cafes or other places … like McDonalds when you see old friends,” he said.

“We do not want to see the rebound that we’ve seen in other countries.”

Originally published as Maccas mayhem as New Zealand ends lockdown

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