The way out of Alert Level Four Covid confinement (it seems) is to get arrested and be freed on remand

The Beehive website has been focused on Covid-related news in recent days – each of the last four press statements from ministers is related to Covid-19 issues and, for good measure, we can include a statement which arrived in our email in-tray yesterday from Peeni Henare which has not yet been given “official” Beehive website status.

But none of those statements deals with the question of why a remand prisoner who should have been kept in Alert Level Four lockdown along with all other Aucklanders – preferably in a prison in his case – was allowed to cross the border to the Waikato.

And guess what?

The Minister of Health revealed at the weekend that three household members of the prisoner have tested positive for the virus.

Corrections told RNZ the man initially denied having any symptoms of Covid-19 when he arrived, but they were detected the following day. He tested positive on Sunday.

The ministry said in a statement that two of the three household members attend Mangatangi School on the Hauraki Plains. All three positive cases, and an accompanying adult caregiver, are being moved to a quarantine facility.

As ACT leader David Seymour points out:

“Most of us thought if you crossed the border illegally, you’d get arrested. Who knew that if you get arrested first, you can cross the border legally?

“The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 gives the power to the Government to make orders that can lock New Zealanders in their homes, detail the type of food we can purchase, provide case by case decisions on business openings and travel, and establish enforced borders between regions.

“It is remarkable that despite this, the Government does not believe it has responsibility for the bailing of an individual through the Auckland border. It can dictate every other part of life.”  

News posted on The Beehive website since Point of Order last reported on Friday related to a $36 million investment in research into Covid-19 and other infectious diseases and to the further suspension of quarantine-free travel with Australia.

The statement we received from Peeni Henare,  Whānau Ora and Associate Health (Māori Health) Minister, brayed about two major milestones in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme for Māori.

“I am very pleased to announce more than 50 percent of eligible Māori have received their first dose and 25 per cent are now fully vaccinated,” Peeni Henare said.

“This means over 285,000 of eligible Māori have had their first dose. This is fantastic news and demonstrates that the whānau-based approach we have taken across the roll-out is working.”

 Latest from the Beehive

Government funding to fight infectious diseases

The Government’s investing in a new Infectious Diseases Research Platform to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 response and preparedness for future pandemics.

 Quarantine-free travel with Australia to remain suspended for a further 8 weeks

The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) with Australia has been extended, given the current Delta outbreaks, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

 But we found nothing official or in a ministerial press statement in our in-tray about the remand prisoner given a free pass to cross the border.

Fair to say, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson seems to have had something to say about this matter in response to media questioning – but not the PM or the Minister of Corrections.

Robertson (we are led to believe by Seymour) said the excuse for a man with COVID-19 crossing the border to the Waikato was “a decision for the courts”.

Seymour says this simply doesn’t wash.  

“Most of us thought if you crossed the border illegally, you’d get arrested. Who knew that if you get arrested first, you can cross the border legally?

“The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 gives the power to the Government to make orders that can lock New Zealanders in their homes, detail the type of food we can purchase, provide case by case decisions on business openings and travel, and establish enforced borders between regions.

“It is remarkable that despite this, the Government does not believe it has responsibility for the bailing of an individual through the Auckland border. It can dictate every other part of life.”

Seymour noted that bail conditions are set by the Bail Act 2000.

“This isn’t the court’s fault. They play by the rules Parliament sets. The Government just didn’t set any.

“People in Auckland who have been unable to leave for legitimate purposes, like to grieve for a loved one, have the right to feel let down by the Government.”

We wait with great interest to hear if the PM attempts to reconcile the state’s regard for the wellbeing of remand prisoners with its regard for the wellbeing of the Auckland and Waikato communities.

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