Coronavirus: Another Ministry of Health botch-up as group of 10 let out of quarantine early to attend burial

Newshub can reveal another serious blunder by health officials who have failed to follow their own rules.

A group of around 10 people, who were in quarantine in Christchurch, were allowed out early to attend a burial with more than 150 people on Tuesday. 

That's despite the Ministry of Health announcing nine days ago that such exemptions were no longer permitted - leaving a funeral director and his team thoroughly perplexed.

A day prior, they had hosted a room full of 200 mourners. Health officials informed his staff that 10 of those attending would be coming part-way through their stay in quarantine.

"It was a surprise to us that people who were still in quarantine were going to be allowed to attend a funeral," funeral director and Lamb and Hayward Group CEO Steve Parkyn told Newshub.

"There's nothing in that that has any common sense to it."

We don't know when or if the group applied for exemptions, but we do know that on June 9, the Ministry of Health stated that those in managed isolation would "no longer be able to apply for exemptions for funerals" .

"If the rules were in place to prevent this happening - certainty they have not been followed or enforced in this situation," Parkyn said.

Also on June 9, the Ministry said all those leaving "will require a negative test result before they leave". 

Parkyn said no one could confirm to him they'd been tested - and as they hadn't completed their 14-day quarantine period, he refused to allow the group to attend the funeral. 

However, the group did attend the burial anyway, where 150 people were present. They were accompanied by a DHB nurse.   

"There's some work to be done, certainly, to tidy this up," Parkyn said.

Even Health Minister Dr David Clark seemed confused about how many other people may have left quarantine without being tested.

"This is something I have asked for answers on and the Ministry of Health is working their way through that," Clark told media.

They're doing that after a botch-up allowed two women - one of whom had symptoms - to leave the Novotel midway through their quarantine.

Mark Dexter is at the same hotel and was supposed to be tested on day three of being there, as the rules stipulate - but that didn't happen. 

"It seems to be a fundamental error that's happened. I don't know why it's happened, but it is a concern," Dexter said.

He has colleagues in Australia and Austria who were either tested on arrival at the airport, or on day one in quarantine. 

"I was expecting to be swab tested on arrival in Auckland. Not on day four."

Jennie Carr left quarantine on May 31, before the new rules came into effect. 

Carr was allowed out midway through her stay to visit her terminally ill father - but no temperature check or test was offered before she drove out the gates. 

"During the 14 days you get to know people. We were all amazed that the simple thing would have been to give us tests and it wasn't done," Carr told Newshub.

She says the rules requiring a negative test result were implemented far too late, and then not enforced anyway. 

"It's shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, most definitely," she added.

And that, Carr says, is a great shame - especially after all Kiwis have sacrificed so much during such a lengthy lockdown.