No one has been penalised beyond a warning for bubble breaches in managed isolation and quarantine – which have been happening about once every 36 hours.
The Herald has previously reported 76 MIQ bubble breaches since the start of August, including unauthorised mixing or mingling, or people not wearing PPE when they were supposed to.
The breaches are considered minor, but every one of them is an avoidable risk of Covid-19 spread.
The most high profile breaches have included visiting cricket teams from the West Indies and Pakistan, who were caught hanging out in common areas and passing things to each other.
But no penalties have been handed down, in contrast with the more serious breach of escaping from MIQ.
That has happened 10 times and involved 14 people, 10 of whom have been charged with failing to comply with an order made under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act.
The last time was in October, when a woman escaped the Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland through a fire exit between 1am and 3am.
She was caught trying again the following night.
Normally a security guard is at or near a fire exit, but “a local decision was taken which meant that those guards were elsewhere on that evening”.
A spokesman for managed isolation and quarantine said they did not keep records of what happened to people who breached MIQ bubbles.
“The first response is isolation, testing, education and warning, but there can be instances where people have had their time in isolation reset, if they have been potentially exposed by the breach.
“In serious instances, of repeat cases of bubble breaching, the New Zealand Police may become involved, and issue a warning.”
Between April and December 7, police have issued 85 warnings to people who have breached managed isolation and quarantine rules.
“Our first step will always be to engage with those involved, to educate them on the current managed isolation/quarantine requirements (if necessary), and to encourage compliance with those requirements,” police said.
“A warning will be given where offences are repeated or are sufficiently serious. Prosecution would only be a last resort and has not been required for any ‘bubble breaches’, which have occurred to date.”
More than 80,000 people have been through MIQ since March.
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