COVID-19: Hamilton man in isolation denied chance to see dying father

A Hamilton man in isolation has been denied compassionate release, even after testing negative for COVID-19 three times in the last four weeks.

Haydon Kerr landed from Dubai last Wednesday in a rush to be with his 79-year-old father during his final stretch of his battle against cancer. 

"I desperately just want to be there to tell him that I love him, that I'm trying hard to get there, and be there with him and the family... and take care of him. He's been an amazing dad."

Kerr applied for compassionate exemption to visit his dying father. By Friday, his sister pleaded with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to "consider the application on time." They replied, saying his application was "still being assessed". 

On Monday, Kerr's application was "awaiting sign-off" but was declined four hours later with no detailed reason why.'

Kerr told Newshub he had returned three negative COVID-19 test results in the last four weeks, including a mandatory day three test during quarantine.

"I'm gutted… as any child would be who wants to see their parents for the final time, to say how much you love them and be there for them. It's just been taken away from me."

Forty-eight of the 866 applications for compassionate release received since mid-July have been granted.

Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) officials consider the country the person came from, the risk of their travel, and where they'll visit. 

"Exemptions for exceptional circumstances, such as to visit a dying relative, are only approved when the health risk has been assessed as being low and can be managed," MIQ's website says.

Lawyer Simon Foote QC has taken several failed exemption cases to the High Court after similar requests for exemptions had been denied.

Foote says if there's medical evidence and a detailed plan in place about how to do it safely - especially if the relative is dying at home - then there's no reason it should be denied. 

Tonight Haydon will spend his seventh night in isolation, clinging on to hope his appeal will be approved.