Coronavirus: Growing concern Gloriavale breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules

Police have told Newshub they are "working closely" with Gloriavale to make sure the religious sect is complying with the lockdown rules.

It follows complaints from family members on the outside, worried that COVID-19 could take hold.

Gloriavale - 600 people that live in their own bubble. Their usual way of life in close-quarters, now banned in New Zealand under the coronavirus lockdown.

Gloriavale may be closed off, but there is a lot of communication with ex-members on the outside. And those who have left the religious sect are deeply concerned.

"We have a lot of reports coming in that Gloriavale is not - and possibly does not - have any intentions of fully following the Government's regulations," says Liz Gregory.

Gregory runs the Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust and is calling on authorities to act.

"They will not let people self-isolate. I know that people have asked to be provided with accommodation to self-isolate in - and been denied," she says.

Gloriavale's communal dinners and prayers for all 600 people are now against the rules.

Leavers say families have been told to eat in their rooms - they live one family to a room in packed boarding houses.

And until recent days, members have been coming and going with the outside world.

"Gloriavale would not be set up for a virus like this," Gregory warns.

John Ready quit Gloriavale, but his wife and family are still inside and he is worried.

"Their bubble is essentially 600 people," he told Newshub.

On Saturday, Newshub was shown two photos that a Gloriavale member took with an illicit phone.

We can't show you them because it would identify the member. The date stamp was Thursday, March 26 - that's after nationwide school shutdown.

The photos showed children inside a playground and two prams outside education rooms.

"From a couple of sources, they are still going to school - the school children are still going to school," Ready says.

Gloriavale's leadership would not talk to Newshub today.

The Ministry of Health said it had met with and briefed leaders on COVID-19 precautions.

But the concern from leavers is that they will not be telling the full story to authorities - or their members.

"I don't see boarding schools, I don't see marae, I don't see any other group in New Zealand or any other isolated community making a case they have to flout the rules," Gregory says.

Gloriavale, the isolated community that might not be isolating enough.