A Christchurch man has issued an emotional plea to the Government to "have a heart" after close family friends were forced into quarantine, delaying the burial of their son.
Eight members of the family flew over from Australia earlier this month after the man, in his 20s, died while on remand in Christchurch Men's Prison last week. The man's death is not suspicious, and has been reported to the Coroner.
The family are currently stuck at an Auckland hotel in managed isolation, where they must remain for 14 days, and have had multiple compassionate exemption requests rejected.
Their efforts to get to Christchurch to organise his funeral hit another snag on Tuesday, when the Government announced that people in managed isolation or quarantine would not be able to attend funerals and tangihanga.
"Changes to the criteria for exemptions from managed isolation will apply to all applications received after 1pm, on 9 June 2020," a statement on the Ministry of Health's website reads.
But Robert Thomas Wrathall - a close family friend who describes the deceased as a brother - says that's unfair, and has taken to Facebook to protest the ministry's perceived lack of compassion in an emotional video.
"I'm frustrated and angry. We've got a family of eight to ten sitting in f**king quarantine," he says in the footage, which has now been reshared on social media hundreds of times.
"The thing that f**ks me off is, why the f**k are they sitting there? They should be [allowed to] come down to Christchurch to bury their son.
"I feel for this family hard because they're my family too. They're not cousins sitting in quarantine - it's a mother, three brothers, two sisters and a nephew."
Later in the video, Wrathall urges the Government to "have a heart".
"The f**king Government needs to have some compassion... Get this family home," he says through tears.
"I bet if this was anyone in Government's situation... I guarantee you motherf**kers would give them compassionate grounds. You know you would. So have some heart for this family."
The Ministry of Health told Newshub it's working with the family, whose exemption application is still in process, but is unable to provide further details due to privacy reasons.
"Applications for exemption from managed isolation on compassionate grounds are dealt with as quickly as possible and are prioritised according to the urgency of the request and individual circumstances," a spokesperson said.
"Cases involving exemptions to visit a family member who is dying are reviewed with compassion and urgency."
If the Ministry of Health continues to reject the family's requests for compassionate exemption, they'll face a wait of at least another week before they're able to get to Christchurch to send off their son.
And once they head back to Australia, they'll have to quarantine going back there too in accordance with the Australian Government's Department of Health rules.
During alert level 2, 142 exemptions from managed isolation were approved on compassionate grounds for people to attend funerals, tangihanga or visit a dying loved one.
The ministry made the change to rules because "someone who has potentially been exposed overseas now poses a greater risk wider spread of COVID-19 at large gatherings".
"It's an unfortunate but on balance necessary trade-off as we relax the domestic restrictions on gathering numbers moving to level 1," it said.
"We need to balance the increase in risk by taking a more restrictive approach at the border, so we can continue to keep COVID-19 out, and keep our domestic economy operating as freely as possible."