9 Jul 2020

Victoria St Countdown accidentally reopened day after Covid-19 case visit

4:33 pm on 9 July 2020

The Auckland supermarket where an escapee from managed isolation went shopping accidentally reopened early the day after he visited.

Victoria St Coundown.

Victoria St Coundown. Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

A 32-year-old man left his isolation hotel and went shopping at the Victoria St Countdown on Tuesday night, and ended up testing positive for Covid-19 the next morning.

In a statement, a Countdown spokesperson said police visited the store just before closing on Tuesday night.

The store's CCTV footage was reviewed and staff wiped down surfaces as a precaution.

The store was not aware the man was Covid-19 positive and it had not been asked or required to close the store at the time.

The next morning, the store - which opens at 7am - was shut at 8.15am for a deep clean and was planned to be closed all day, as per normal procedure.

There may have still been some customers finishing their shopping just after, but no-one else was let in from this time.

The deep clean was finished when it was accidentally reopened for three minutes between 10.29am and 10.32am.

Eleven people entered the store during this time, including journalist Patrick Gower, and completed their shopping.

The spokesperson said there were a number of occasions around the country where customers had tested positive for Covid-19 during the lockdown, and the company had processes in place to ensure stores were safe.

The company's usual process is to open a store when the clean has been completed.

"On this occasion, we had actually decided to keep the store closed for the day - not out of any requirement or safety need, but because we felt it was best for our team given the circumstances," the spokesperson said.

"We obviously didn't choose for this person to escape quarantine and come into our store, and have acted as safely, proactively and efficiently as possible with our team and customer safety top of mind at all times."

At a media conference earlier today, Air Commodore Digby Webb gave a detailed break-down of the movements of the man.

The man was logged into smoking area at 6.51pm and escaped via the fence section being replaced. He walked to the Countdown, taking a relatively indirect route arriving at 7.02pm. He spent 20 minutes there and then took a phone call for 22 minutes, which ended at 7.42pm. He then took an indirect route back to the hotel, arriving at 7.58pm.

During this time he walked along Albert Street, Customs St East, Queen St and Victoria Street West.

Police turned up at the supermarket at 9.30pm, after the man had returned to the hotel.

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