Government's suspension of compassionate quarantine exemption leaves families heartbroken

The Government has refused to apologise for the strict quarantine protocols, despite leaving would-be compassionate exemption recipients heartbroken.

On Tuesday, Jacinda Ardern announced that compassionate exemptions from quarantine have been suspended after two women were allowed to leave isolation without being tested for COVID-19, and later tested positive.

Musician Jordan Gow died on Sunday morning after his car collided with another driving the wrong way.

His mother Penny Violetto is in the United States and wants to fly back to New Zealand to farewell her son.

"I want to be with my family," Violetto told Newshub.

Her grief is made worse by the exemption suspension which has stripped her of saying goodbye to her son. 

"I was shocked to say the least," she said. "I just thought I don't want to feel another shock wave you know."

Those that will be affected weren't given an apology by Health Minister David Clark or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

"The important thing is to fix this problem," David Clark said. "The director-general [Ashley Bloonmfield] has owned this failing... I have every sympathy for those people, my expectation is it will be fixed."

Ardern said the case is an  unacceptable failure of the system" that should never have happened and "cannot be repeated".

"My job is to keep New Zealanders safe, I know the decision to suspend compassionate leave will not be a popular one, but it is the right one," she said. 

The Ministry of Health originally said the two women with COVID-19 drove non-stop from Auckland to Wellington, using no toilets or petrol stations, and have not come into contact with anyone since, apart from a parent.

But National used parliamentary privilege to suggest otherwise on Wednesday.

"The two individuals went the wrong way on their journey and came into close contact with the people who gave them directions," said National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

On Wednesday night the ministry confirmed the women got lost and needed help. 

"Upon leaving the Novotel in a private vehicle provided by friends, the women got lost on the Auckland motorway system," The Ministry of Health said in a statement. 

"On realising this they phoned the same friends who supplied the vehicle, who met and guided them to the correct motorway so they could go in the right direction. As part of this the pair were in limited physical contact with the two friends for approximately five minutes." 

The Ministry of Health said the close contacts are now in self isolation.