COVID-19: Police to get involved against suspected isolation rulebreakers, offenders could be charged

Police will now become involved when it's suspected people aren't isolating when they're supposed to be.

It comes as Saturday's positive case went to the gym in the hours after being tested.

After a year of COVID in and out of the community the messages have always remained the same: if you're in lockdown stay at home in your bubble. If you're going out, turn on the Bluetooth COVID Tracer app function and keep scanning.

And if you're waiting for test results - or feel unwell - please stay home.

But it appears those rules haven't been followed. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed 'Case M' didn't stay at home after being tested - instead going to the gym.

The disappointment has been clear on the face of the Prime Minister.

"People who should have been in isolation weren't. That has created multiple high-risk situations," Jacinda Ardern says.

Ardern careful not to lash out though - not wanting to discourage others from being tested.

The public has been less forgiving with thousands venting frustrations online.

One saying if you have symptoms not to travel "here there and everywhere". Another arguing for "common sense", saying rulebreakers are "putting everyone at risk".

And on Sunday the Government responded - getting the cops involved.

"If we have any concerns that those who are meant to be isolating are not, health will work with police to check in on those that we feel the need to," Ardern said.

The rules in place might seem simple to many, but one south Auckland leader says there are many cultural barriers. Efeso Collins also suggests conspiracy theories are a major issue in south Auckland.

"You've got families that are struggling to work with uncle or aunty who believe in the conspiracy theories and when you're locked up at home that's what you're going to be hearing day-in, day-out," he says.

Despite officials' reluctance to punish anyone who breaks the rules, a law professor has told Newshub it is possible to prosecute people in some specific individual cases.

Professor Chris Gallavin says the COVID laws introduced last year may help officials. But he argues if someone knowingly or possibly has COVID and is indifferent to the rules it could be as simple as a criminal nuisance charge.

"There is an argument that the police could have jurisdiction to investigate, and lay a charge under the Crimes Act for criminal nuisance," he says.

Something officials are hopeful won't need to happen - as they struggle to get messages through.