3 Sep 2021

No public locations of interest associated with MIQ escape

3:23 pm on 3 September 2021

There are no public locations of interest associated with the man who escaped managed isolation this week, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has confirmed.

Robertson and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay have held today's Covid-19 update.

Watch the update here:

Robertson began today's briefing with more details of the movements of the man who escaped from MIQ in the early hours of yesterday morning

The man - who was first tested as a close contact of another case - was informed of the positive result at 1.22pm on Wednesday. At 3.37pm he was contacted again by public health and he agreed to be transferred to MIQ, which happened at 6.18pm

CCTV showed him leaving his room before departing the facility at 1.07am.

He then walked home but there was no contact with others "as far as can be ascertained", Robertson said.

Police and defence force staff checked his room when they were alerted mid-morning on Thursday.

They then went to his house and took him into custody at 2.05pm.

Robertson said the advice was there was low risk to public safety during the incident.

Asked what the prime minister knew during yesterday's Covid-19 briefing, he said there was some information of an active police operation underway. Letting police do their job rather than release details was the right thing to do, he says.

He cannot answer whether or not the person was being actively monitored by CCTV.

There is an increased staffing presence when a facility is a quarantine facility, Robertson says.

"The point is that we already have those facilities as secure as we can have them, but of course we will have a look and see how that goes."

"Every facility has high levels of security. Obviously something has gone wrong here."

Police officers closely involved with apprehending the man were vaccinated or partially-vaccinated, Robertson says.

When someone enters MIQ, a risk assessment is done. The investigation will look into whether there was a communication break down involved with the escapee's risk report.

There were 28 new community cases of Covid-19 reported today, down from the 49 new cases reported yesterday.

Alert levels and lockdown support

Robertson says he would not pre-empt decisions about moving the South Island to alert level 2.

A move down a level would happen as quickly as possible, Robertson says.

He says alert level 2 settings are yet to be discussed.

If advice to Cabinet on Monday suggests the South Island could move down a level, then Cabinet will discuss what extra measures could be included to alert level 2.

He also says it is "so important" that Aucklanders stick to the rules.

Testing of workers crossing Auckland's border is something the government "wants to see happen".

Work is underway to make it happen and to make it least as disruptive to the movement of good as possible, Robertson says.

It will require a "high level of co-operation and collaboration".

Roberston also spoke about economic support during the lockdown.

He says 1.5 billion dollars of support was paid out in the first two weeks of lockdown and IRD had approved almost 150,000 payments under a business support scheme.

Ministers had agreed to change restrictive settings of the resurgence support subsidy. Businesses can apply under the new criteria from next week.

On the wage subsidy, 242,600 payments have been approved this outbreak, Robertson said.

The applications for the second fortnight of the subsidy opened today.

Robertson met with the NZ banker's association yesterday to discuss support for small businesses.

There was no need for a government-backed scheme regarding mortgage referrals at the moment, he said.

Robertson said when it comes to the economic impacts of the lockdown, it's worth remembering we've been through one before and we recovered.

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