COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins denies the Auckland border can be crossed without proof of a negative test, contradicting official websites.
Questions have been raised about how the COVID-positive women who travelled to Northland were able to cross the border from Auckland, and Newshub's Michael Morrah suggests it could be because proof of a negative test isn't required.
"Well no, you absolutely have to prove that you've had a negative test result, that's what the law says," Hipkins told The AM Show on Wednesday.
But that contradicts several official websites. The Unite Against COVID-19 site clearly states that for workers crossing alert level boundaries, evidence of a test is required, but "you do not need evidence of a negative result".
The same goes for the Ministry of Health website, which states that "proof of test" is required of workers crossing alert level boundaries, but "you don't have to wait for the test result, just provide evidence that you've had a test".
The Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday that the travelling companion of the COVID-positive woman who travelled to Northland, had also tested positive, after she was finally tracked down by authorities in west Auckland and transferred to quarantine.
Of the 18 contacts identified, nine were in Northland, seven were in Auckland, one was in Wellington, and one was still to be determined.
Despite pending test results for the nine contacts in Northland, Hipkins told The AM Show the Government is not ruling out a shift down to alert level 2 for the region.
"I think it will depend on the nature of the risk that might have been identified in the last 24 hours or so. As of this time yesterday, we hadn't seen anything that would necessarily stop the move we signalled earlier in the week.
"We did have a result in last night around a truck driver who has travelled from Auckland up into Northland, so there's a case investigation going on about that at the moment to identify if there's any additional risk.
"Obviously people working in that freight and logistics industry take protective measures to make sure they keep themselves and their customers safe, so that's what the investigation will be looking at. Then of course we'll look at the overall number of tests that we're seeing out of Northland."
National MP Louise Upston says the Government needs to explain how the two women were granted a travel exemption by the Ministry of Social Development.
"There must be accountability for what appears to be a gross error in judgment," Upston says.
"How can it be that people willing to move heaven and earth to take safety precautions are denied exemptions every day, yet people who've been uncooperative with authorities are given carte blanche to cross boundaries?
"For days the Government has kept New Zealanders in the dark about how these two women could cross the boundary.
"It appears, on the face of it, that negligence by the Ministry of Social Development may be responsible for putting New Zealanders at further risk of COVID."
Hipkins said it's not easy keeping Auckland contained.
"Auckland is where a lot of commerce takes place. It's where a lot of goods come into the country and leave the country, and so you need people to be able to transport those. People do need to be able to come and go. We try to keep it as tight as we can.
"It's going to be increasingly difficult to keep COVID-19 contained within just Auckland where it is clear we're not going to get back to zero, and therefore it's a question of time before we start seeing cases popping up in other parts of the country, so we have to be ready for that."