The Government has suspended the exemptions for people in managed isolation to be granted leave on compassionate grounds.
The crackdown follows questions around the two women who tested positive for Covid-19 – and whether they should have been allowed to leave their Auckland hotel room if proper protocols had been followed.
Those protocols include the need to have spent at least a week in isolation and to test negative for Covid-19 before being granted compassionate leave.
Those protocols came into effect on June 9, and it remains unclear whether they were supposed to apply only to people who arrived in New Zealand from that date.
Health Minister David Clark, in a statement this evening, said compassionate exemptions would be put on hold until the Government had confidence in the system.
“Compassionate exemptions should be rare and rigorous and it appears that this case did not include the checks that we expected to be happening. That’s not acceptable.
“Our border measures are a key line of defence against Covid-19 and we must ensure they are as robust as possible.
“The Director General will be reviewing the processes around these latest two cases, noting that he has already made it a requirement that all individuals must return a negative Covid test before leaving managed isolation facilities from now on.”
It should always have been a requirement. The problem isn’t compassionate leave. It is a lack of rigour in the system.
Here’s what should happen to every inbound traveller:
- Tested for Covid-19 as they enter New Zealand
- Go into quarantine or isolation for 14 days
- Tested for Covid-19 again the day before isolation ends
If there are compassionate circumstances, then you can shorten (2) but you never do away with (1) and (3). So if you have a dying relative maybe you only spend six days in isolation, but release is still dependent on a 2nd clear Covid-19 test.