Coronavirus pandemic: People who refuse to self-isolate could be fined

People who refuse to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic could be fined, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told media on Monday the country is considering fines in an effort to stop the virus spreading. 

Dr Bloomfield said there are no details about how much the fines would be but conversations are happening at a government level. 

"We are actively starting some work on that. It's a cross-government look at that. The advice around fines would not come from us, but it would come from the Attorney General's office. 

"We are doing this to ensure New Zealand and New Zealanders are protected from having a severe impact from COVID-19."

He said the Ministry of Health would not be involved in the prosecuting of people. 

The ministry will also be carrying out phone calls and spot-checks to make sure everyone is following the self-isolation regulations. 

"We are in the process of doing spot checks on people to ensure they are undertaking the appropriate self-isolation," Dr Bloomfield said. 

Dr Bloomfield said any tourists entering New Zealand will need to provide details of their self-isolation plans and could be refused entry if the Ministry of Health isn't satisfied with it.

He said people in self-isolate are still able to go for a run but need to make sure they are minimising their close contact with other people. Close contact is face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes.

"You can still enjoy biking or walking or running, of course, alone rather than with others. You should avoid having visitors to your home but it's okay for friends, family and delivery drivers to drop off supplies to your home. There is no problem having a conversation with them if you maintain a two-metre distance." 

Dr Bloomfield said people who are self-isolating cannot use public transport or taxis and Ubers. However, he said it was okay to use public transport if you are asymptomatic and need to get home from the airport but they cannot continue using it after that. 

He said minimising contact with people you're sharing a house with is also important through good hygiene and avoiding communal areas where possible.