Government relying on 'goodwill' to stop residents of COVID-19 infected woman's apartment leaving

The Government is relying on "goodwill" to keep people living in the same building as the newest COVID-19 case inside - but at least seven have left the apartment already, saying the information from the Ministry of Health has been unclear.


COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the message to stay home has been clear - but that doesn't seem the case for people living in the Vincent Residences in Auckland's CBD. 

After a woman in her 20s tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, the Ministry of Health asked anyone who lives in the same apartment as her to urgently seek a test and self-isolate until their test returns negative. 

The AM Show reporter Lauren Hendricksen was outside the apartment block on Friday and saw people leaving - despite health officials pleading with the apartment's residents to stay put until they have been tested.

At least seven people have left the apartment since 5:45am.

She says one person left "to buy a bottle of milk" and another said he was checking his car.

One resident, who said his name was Jamie, told The AM Show that the information from the Government has been unclear.

"When they say isolation, what set of rules? Is it like the first outbreak, when one person goes out to get groceries?" he said. 

"Those instructions aren't clear at all. If it was meant to be totally isolated then where's the military and where's the police? There's no presence."

Another resident said he was told there was no way to stop people leaving, and that they hadn't been told they were not allowed to leave.

He was leaving the building to buy milk and coffee - despite being tested for COVID-19 the previous night. 

Hipkins told The AM Show that although people have been asked to stay home until they return a negative test, "we can't surround the building".

When confronted with knowledge of the escapees, Hipkins said he would follow it up.

"We are relying a lot on goodwill but that is certainly something that I'll be following up in the next few minutes to see what more we can do."

He said hiring a security guard would be an option they would explore but stopped short of saying it would be done. 

He says the Government's message is clear - "please do the right thing and protect yourself and protect other people".

But it seems some people still are not listening.

As a precaution, the Government has asked anyone who works in the CBD to work from home on Friday if possible. Auckland Council has closed a number of its central facilities including its offices, the Library, the Town Hall and the Tepid Baths.