23 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Traveller in isolation says enforcement of social distancing rule lacking

10:55 am on 23 April 2020

A returned traveller is worried that socialising going on under mandatory isolation could increase the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Travellers with face masks at Auckland Airport international arrivals during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak on 20/3/2020.

Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Nathaniel Herz-Edinger, 27, is half way through 14 days of imposed isolation at a hotel in Auckland's CBD.

The virus forced his early return after three years of living in Berlin. Upon arrival at the airport, he had his temperature checked and was asked if he had any symptoms, and the same was done at the hotel.

He told Morning Report that now every two days a nurse comes and checks temperatures and asks for symptoms too.

He currently spends his days watching television, eating, and describes the highlight as the scheduled run.

Any of those isolated can sign up for a slot to run or walk in groups of about 20 or 30 while being watched over by security staff, Herz-Edinger said.

While most people are keeping their distance, he said there were those who were alone and felt starved of contact and wanted to socialise.

"Often there's a couple of people here and there who are not keeping distance," Herz-Edinger said.

"That's what I found strange the first day we got here ... we went on a walk and some guys asked us 'hey, how's it going? Where are you from?'" he said.

"And he told us he was on his eighth day of quarantine, and there we are walking on the street, next to each other, kind of tired, brain's not really going, not really social distancing properly.

"I think if we just brought [the virus] back from Berlin or Doha, where we had our transfer, then I'm thinking this guy could be back home before he got symptoms."

Herz-Edinger said there was not much enforcement of the social distancing rules, but there were signs up to remind people.

"As far as staff go, I don't think I've heard of anyone say anything really."

He said he was also concerned about enforcement of rules at the small smoking area outside, which was about five metres wide.

"Anytime of the day, anyone who smokes can go down there and have a cigarette and have a chat with whoever else is around and there's not really much enforcement or anything."

He praised the overall efforts, adding that food was left outside rooms with no contact, hotel staff were all wearing masks, and sanitiser was everywhere.

"Pretty much everything is on point, it's just a couple of things I think they could maybe improve."

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

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