A Waikato man who crossed the alert level 3 Hamilton border and travelled to Tauranga after cutting off his electronic bail monitoring bracelet has been jailed for a month.
The defendant, who appeared in the Tauranga District Court on October 27, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an order made under the Covid 19 Public Health Response Act by crossing the border.
He faced a maximum penalty of six months' prison or a $4000 fine.
At the time of this month's breach, Hamilton and Waikato were under alert level 3 restrictions including a ban on crossing regional borders.
The man, who cannot be identified at this time, is facing another unrelated charge.
On the day of the breach, he was also subject to a home curfew but cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet after an argument with his partner and left his Hamilton address.
Police found him at a family member's Tauranga home 10 days later and he was arrested.
The defendant's lawyer Hayley Sheridan entered the guilty plea on his behalf.
Sheridan told Judge David Cameron that her client's offending was "spontaneous" rather than premeditated and he headed to Tauranga to stay with his only family in New Zealand.
She said her client waived his right to a pre-sentence report and accepted a short term of imprisonment of no more than 28 days was appropriate in all the circumstances.
Sheridan also said that while in custody he had been twice tested for Covid 19 and both results were negative.
Judge Cameron told the defendant that he needed to hold him accountable and denounce and also deter him and others from breaching these "vitally important" safeguards.
Breaching a Covid-19 health order that was in force "for the benefit of the whole population was a very serious matter," he said.
Judge Cameron said he accepted the defendant's actions were spontaneous rather than a planned act of defiance and sentenced him to a month in prison.
The judge declined the defendant's request for interim name suppression after hearing legal arguments from a second lawyer Jarom Keung.
Judge Cameron said the question of any possible appeal against his ruling would be revisited on October 29 and the defendant's identity was suppressed in the meantime.
Penalties for breaches of Covid-19 orders are to significantly increase next month.
Last month Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that was necessary to "better reflect" the seriousness of any behaviour that threatened New Zealand's response to the virus".
Rule-breaking risks spreading the virus, and the new penalties will provide a further deterrence to those who chose to break the rules, Hipkins said.
The maximum infringement fee for failing to comply with a Covid 19 requirement will rise from $300 to $4000 or the maximum court fine from $1000 to $12,000.
Covid-19 infringement offences include not wearing a face mask in places where it is mandatory to do so and also travelling for an unpermitted purpose.
Body corporates who fail to have systems and processes in place in accordance with the Covid-19 health order now face a $12,000 infringement fine or a court fine of up to $15,000 on conviction.
From 11.59pm on Wednesday, restrictions will ease "a little" for Waikato residents.
People can meet in outdoor gatherings from two households and with social distancing, recreational activities such as golfing will be allowed, and early learning services can reopen with a maximum of 10 people in each bubble. It's the same restrictions that Auckland is under but people still cannot travel outside Waikato.