COVID-19: Megan Woods 'would love' to move managed isolation facilities away from CBD, but can't because of health criteria

Managed isolation and quarantine facilities have "clear health criteria", which is why the Government can't move them away from Auckland's central business district, Megan Woods says.

Woods, the Minister in charge of managed isolation, was asked by The AM Show host Duncan Garner if isolation facilities could be moved out of the CBD after a 32-year-old man escaped from Stamford Hotel on Tuesday night, before testing positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

She said large hotels, which tend to be located in the CBD, are the best for isolation due to having separate bathrooms and other sufficient facilities.

"Inevitably we're led to large hotels which tend to be located in the CBD - you can't use any kind of those institutional living arrangements where there might be shared bathrooms.

"Believe me, I would love to have these places well away from the CBD." 

Asked if completely closing the border for a period had been considered after the isolation escape, Woods said, "We simply can't. There is a legal requirement to allow New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to enter their country".

"The buck stops with individuals who have an obligation to follow the rules - they should not be breaking the law.

"These are managed isolation facilities where we're asking people who are coming home to do their bit - to rejoin the team of 5 million." 

Woods said they weren't expecting people to slip through fences, as the escapee did on Tuesday.

"There are clear expectations of these people."

Woods said of the 30,000 people who have entered the country since managed isolation began, only two had escaped. That excludes the border bungle fiasco last month where two women were allowed out of managed isolation on compassionate grounds without a COVID-19 test, before testing positive for coronavirus.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday blasted the "acts of selfishness" of the two people who had escaped managed isolation.

In the latest case, the man wore a mask during his time away from the facility but it was removed for a period of time, Hipkins said.

The man faces a fine of $4000 or up to six months in jail. Head of managed isolation and quarantine Air Commodore Daryn Webb said his actions were unacceptable.

"We take any breach of the COVID-19 rules very seriously.

"Wilfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken."