13 Sep 2021

Queentown's mayor wants police plan to avoid future Covid-19 border breaches

1:01 pm on 13 September 2021

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult wants to know what police will be doing to avoid another breach of lockdown rules and potential spread of Covid-19 in the local community.

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Mayor of Queenstown Jim Boult. Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

Boult said he was left furious after police said an Auckland couple had used their essential worker status at a boundary checkpoint to get to Hamilton and then flew to their holiday home in Wanaka.

Police called it a "calculated and deliberate flouting of the alert level 4 restrictions".

A 26-year-old woman and 35-year-old man are due in court this week after being charged with breaching the Health Order.

Boult told Morning Report the act of selfishness had put the town's Covid-free status and economic wellbeing at risk and that he would be consulting with police on the matter.

"I just don't under the selfishness of people who think it's ok to do that," he said.

"We're intensely careful about what we do down here to protect not only our health but also our livelihood from the effects of Covid-19 and a couple of people just decide casually that they'll pop down from Auckland.

"Now hopefully they don't have Covid-19 and the chances are that's probably the case. But it's not the point. You've just endangered our community."

Boult said it was not the first incident of its kind and now wanted a plan in place to mitigate the risk of people slipping across the alert-level borders into the region.

"We had somebody else turn up here last week in a similar circumstance, so if people are really determined to break the rules they'll find a way to break the rules.

"I don't know the details of this particular couple, but it sounds like they were on a pre-determined course to get here. It wasn't just a casual decision, they planned it out.

"Do they give any thought to the folk they are possibly endangering. I think not. But my question today is to the police and how we can ensure this won't happen again."

With the government due to revisit Covid-19 alert-levels for Auckland and the rest of the country later this afternoon, Boult said everyone was hoping the incident would not affect any decision. The couples Covid-19 tests would be pivotal.

"I hope the tests come through pretty quickly and obviously I hope these folk don't have Covid-19 but if they do obviously that puts the whole thing back in the 'what now' department."

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