Anyone found guilty of a breach similar to that of a man from Perth who travelled to Auckland could face a large fine or be jailed for as long as half a year, the Director-General of Health has revealed.
The man, who arrived on our shores last week despite a temporary ban on flights between Western Australia and New Zealand, is now in managed isolation.
While Dr Ashley Bloomfield wouldn't comment on the specific case over fears he'd prejudice the investigation, he said in general, any person who enters New Zealand and is ineligible for quarantine-free travel may be subject to enforcement action.
"If a person is convicted of breaching the air border order, they could face a fine of up to $4000 or six months' imprisonment," he told media in a press conference from the Beehive on Wednesday afternoon.
It comes after the man flew out of Perth while it was still in lockdown, transitting in Sydney before continuing on to Auckland on Sunday. The quarantine-free travel bubble between the Western Australian city and New Zealand was supended during this time due to the detection of community COVID-19 cases there.
The Ministry of Health says the matter remains the subject of an ongoing investigation, so couldn't say whether the man would face enforcement action.
"There are a number of questions still to be answered about what has occurred in this situation. The answers to those questions will inform next steps in terms of any further enforcement action," they said in a press release.
However the ministry reassures the public the risk to New Zealand is "very low".
"This person’s account of their movements in Perth do not have them visiting any locations of interest identified by the Western Australian authorities.
"While the public health risk has been assessed as low, it does serve as an important reminder that our response relies on accuracy and people fully complying with the safety measures that have been put in place by both countries.
"The actions of one person could jeopardise quarantine-free travel with Australia for everyone."
New case details
Later in the conference, Dr Bloomfield announced two new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities - though for the 59th day running, none in the community.
The new cases are from Japan and the United States, and have now been transferred to Auckland's quarantine facility the Jet Park Hotel.
Another 10 cases recovered on Wednesday, and one previously reported has been reclassified as “under investigation”, which sees the number of active cases in New Zealand drop to 27.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is now 2254.
On Tuesday, another 3376 tests were processed, taking the total number of tests processed by laboratories since the start of the pandemic to 2,008,199.