Dimension likely to avoid prosecution as number of entertainment, art workers let into NZ during pandemic revealed

British DJ Dimension is unlikely to face prosecution for breaking self-isolation rules.

The Ministry of Health does not intend to refer the breach by the entertainer, who ventured to a number of popular central Auckland locations while unwittingly carrying Omicron, to the police over the matter.

Dimension, whose real name is Robert Etheridge, in December completed his seven days in managed isolation before leaving to undertake three days in self-isolation.

However, the Ministry of Health said at the time that he didn't wait for a negative day nine test result before leaving self-isolation as required. While he had previously tested negative on three occasions, his final test came back positive for Omicron.

The ministry told Stuff that it needed to balance the effect that any prosecution may have as a deterrent against action which could damage future cases from cooperating with the country's health response. 

"The Ministry continues to assess the need for enforcement action in relation to breaches of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Order on a case by case basis, and may seek action in instances where this would support the public health response," the statement said, according to Stuff.

Police said any enforcement action would come after consultation with the ministry and no referral had been received.

Etheridge was in New Zealand to play at Wānaka's Rhythm and Alps festival but had to withdraw due to this positive test. It was his third time here during the pandemic.

Immigration NZ says more than 560 foreigners who work in the arts and entertainment industry have received a special exemption to enter New Zealand during the pandemic.

Between June 18, 2020 and December 8, 2021, 564 workers in the entertainment and arts sector have had requests for border exceptions approved. Immigration NZ told Newshub it was not possible to say how many international DJs have had approved requests for the other critical workers exemption as that would require going through each file.

While New Zealand's border remains mostly shut to non-New Zealanders, employers can bring workers into the country as "other critical workers", but they are still "expected to genuinely seek to fill job vacancies with New Zealanders".

One category is for short-term workers, meaning those needing to be in New Zealand for less than six months.

According to the Immigration NZ website, a short-term worker is considered an "other critical worker" if they have "unique experience and technical or specialist skills not readily obtainable in New Zealand" or they are undertaking a "time-critical" role for a major Government project, an approved government-to-government agreement or "work with significant wider benefit to the national or regional economy".

It says skills are considered "not readily obtainable if there are no workers in New Zealand who can do the role, or there is a limited pool of available workers who can do the role and they are not available to the employer".

When confirming on Instagram that he was the positive Omicron case, Dimension said he was "devastated" to test positive and was "extremely sorry" about what had happened. 

The incident led Dimension to receive abuse on social media, while criticism was also levelled at the MIQ system for allowing entertainers into the country at the same time families remain overseas unable to get into New Zealand through the lottery system.

"Kiwis will rightly be shocked that a DJ was able to enter New Zealand three times in one year to play a variety of music festivals while specialist ICU nurses and Kiwis stranded abroad have found it nearly impossible to enter New Zealand," National's Chris Bishop said.

Dimension had earlier posted photos to social media on Christmas Day showing him on a Waiheke Beach but has since deleted them. He later said the Waiheke photos were at a private address approved by the ministry.

Another British DJ, Friction, and Kiwi drum and base duo Lee Mvtthews also had to withdraw from Rhythm and Alps due to being close contacts. Friction posted on Instagram he had received a negative test result but was isolating as a precaution.