Auckland, July 8, 2020
A man who escaped from a managed isolation facility in Auckland and went shopping at a nearby supermarket will be charged under the Health Act.
The maximum punishment for such a breach is $4000 fine or a prison term up to six months.
The 32-year-old man, who arrived from India on July 5, 2020 was staying at Stamford Plaza Hotel on Lower Albert Street in Auckland Central Business District. He visited Countdown supermarket on Victoria Street nearby.
Selfish and stupid
Health Minister Chris Hipkins described the act as ‘selfish,’ and said that the full weight of the law will be applied.
“My understanding is that he left through a smoking area where the fences were being replaced. He was away for about 70 minutes. Officials have gone through the CCTV footages; the public risk is low. The person said that he wore a mask although he indicated that the mask was removed for short periods of time. Countdown supermarket on Victoria Street will remain closed today in order that it can be cleaned thoroughly,” he said.
Mr Hipkins said that all Covid-19 facilities were on standby and that people should abide by rules.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb, Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine said that policies regarding smoking and security will be evaluated.
He said that there was a robust system in place.
System to improve
“But as we have seen, we can always do better. There was a guard outside Stamford Plaza when the man left. He was not sure if he was a contractor. The guards do not have the powers of the Police to apprehend. The CCTV footage showed that no one else left Stamford Plaza,” he said.
Mr Webb confirmed that the man will be charged.
Following is the full statement issued by him:
“Around 650 pm, the man escaped through a fenced area at the Stamford Plaza when he was out smoking, as a section of external fencing was being replaced. Security attempted to follow the man but were unsuccessful in locating him. Police were called immediately, and enquiries were underway to locate the man including reviewing CCTV footage and undertaking substantial area searches, before he returned to the facility where he was then interviewed by Police.
“The man walked to the supermarket on foot and purchased items at a self-service checkout, before returning to the hotel about 8 pm.
“Once the man’s movements were established, Police visited the supermarket and ensured that the self-service checkout and the areas entered by the man were cleaned. CCTV footage from within the supermarket has confirmed that there was no close contact between the man and any staff or customers during his time there. Police are looking at other CCTV footage to figure the man’s movements in the Auckland CBD.
“The actions of this man are completely unacceptable. Returnees are given clear instructions and information about what their responsibilities are. Managed isolation is a critical part in our defence against Covid-19, and it is up to each and every person entering this country to play their part.
“We take any breach of the Covid-19 rules very seriously. Wilfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken.