Following a second incident in which a person escaped from a managed isolation facility, security is being enhanced, including more police presence onsite, Minister Megan Woods said.
“The actions of some individuals who choose to break the very clear rules to stay within the facilities means that more resourcing is needed to protect other New Zealanders from the risk they may present.
“This behaviour is incredibly disappointing, but we are determined to maintain the freedoms we enjoy as New Zealanders in one of the few countries in the world who are free of community transmission of COVID.
“Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I have been speaking with New Zealand Police about implementing further security measures, and there will now be a permanent police presence at each facility,” Megan Woods said.
By tomorrow there will be one police officer stationed at each facility 24/7.
Extra senior security staff will also be added to each facility and security fencing has been boosted.
“All outdoor physical security around facilities that require fencing, including exercise and smoking areas, will have 6 foot high fencing installed by the end of today,” said Darryn Webb.
Minister Woods has also outlined a strengthened process for managing exemptions, saying early release of returnees will only happen after very careful consideration.
“Currently, people returning to New Zealand must enter managed isolation for 14 days, and return a negative Covid-19 test before they can leave into the community. However there are a small number of exceptional circumstances in which people can apply for an exemption to leave a facility.
“These include medical exemptions which are granted in situations where a person’s serious health needs mean they cannot safely stay in managed isolation. Exemptions for other reasons have been suspended since 16 June while assessment, compliance and enforcement processes have been worked on.
“We need to be sure the processes for allowing people to leave managed isolation early is without any weakness or uncertainty so applicants will need to return a negative Covid-19 test before approval is granted. Those in quarantine facilities would be highly unlikely to be considered low risk in the context of an exemption application.
“A Covid-19 exemption team within MBIE is being established and a strengthened assessment process is being put in place. This will include a health assessment to determine the urgency of the request, and any health risks the applicant may present,” Megan Woods said.
Media contact: Liz Banas 021 805 845 firstname.lastname@example.org