Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has revealed "about two dozen" other prisoners have been released from jail and left Auckland since lockdown began.
It follows a remand prisoner being released on September 8, who went on to infect three members of a household in the Waikato. Newshub can confirm the prisoner is a patched member of the Black Power.
It's unclear if any of the other inmates released were tested prior to leaving Auckland, or what public health protocols were in place. However, the Minster says people are released from prisons all the time and they have a right to go home.
"Just like someone being discharged from a hospital is allowed to cross the (Auckland) boundary to go home. So there's very little difference."
- Do you know more? Send an email in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections opposed the prisoner's bail application during a September 7 audio-visual hearing at the Manukau District Court, but the presiding Judge didn't agree and approved it for the following day under "strict" conditions.
"Corrections has done everything they should have. They didn't think he was suitable to be bailed."
The Chief District Court judge has told Newshub his bail conditions meant the prisoner was supposed to be picked by a "specified" family member. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday three people were in the car with the prisoner.
"He was transported by three people, we believe the person who infected him was in that car."
Davis didn't know who picked him up, as restrictions mean those collecting inmates can't come into the prison.
"It would have been difficult to say who was the driver."
The Minister said officials would be looking at how the rules could be tightened up.