Security guards resorted to parking vehicles across a driveway to stop a family connected with a controversial Auckland church's Covid cluster from potentially flouting isolation and leaving the house.
At least one property in New Windsor was under permanent guard for around a fortnight, with a special security detail assigned to the suburban home 24 hours a day.
During this period, no one living at the address was able to leave or enter after locals say a resident repeatedly breached public health orders to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.
Health officials have told the Herald it was a "standard measure" for anyone granted an exemption to isolate in the community.
Those living in the house were identified as close contacts of Covid-infected people in the controversial Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship congregation that initially refused to acknowledge the severity of the outbreak, with a large prayer meeting disbanded by police during the Auckland-wide lockdown.
Neighbours claimed a family living at the New Windsor house linked to the church had not only attended prayer meetings when it was illegal to do so but had also met up with others in an infectious outbreak known as the west Auckland bereavement cluster.
The last remaining infected person from that sub-cluster was finally declared recovered at yesterday's daily Ministry of Health Covid update.
The family was required by public health to undertake a fortnight of self-isolation. It was understood the adults in the house did not test positive but a child was showing signs of Covid-19.
People living in the same street as the guarded suburban address said security personnel parked either across or up the driveway to block cars from entering or leaving.
Guards on duty had told them they were there to keep watch on a house linked with the Covid outbreak.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said while they were unable to comment on individual cases, people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the community were generally asked to move into quarantine facilities, except in exceptional circumstances and where an exemption was approved.
To date there had been a small number of cases where exemptions had been granted.
In these instances the Auckland Regional Public Health Service's Medical Officer of Health specified a plan, with strict criteria, that had to be adhered to by the person or whānau staying at home.
The plan included support arrangements for the family and 24/7 security.
"The latter is to ensure unauthorised visitors do not enter the home, to provide a level of protection for the family and to ensure exemption criteria are adhered to," the spokesperson said.
In an email to the Herald, the Auckland District Health board said vehicles parked on a driveway was among "standard measures" for people granted an exemption to isolate in the community.
"The use of 24/7 security guards was in no way unique to this particular family and there were no extra security measures put in place. The use of 24/7 security is a standard measure for every single person who is granted an exemption to isolate in the community, and is part of the plan that is agreed to by the person or whānau and the Medical Officer of Health."
The Mt Roskill church became the epicentre of a mini Covid cluster during the recent city outbreak that put the Auckland region on month-long lockdown. It was later found members of the church had held prayer meetings during the alert level 3 lockdown where gatherings were banned.
Health authorities were further hampered after churchgoers refused to disclose cases of illness as well as continuing to meet together when they were meant to be in self-isolation.
At least 48 Covid cases - more than a quarter of all those who fell ill with Covid in Auckland - have been linked to the congregation.
The evangelical church came under fire from Health Minister Chris Hipkins, who said some people linked to the congregation were sceptical about the seriousness of the pandemic.
In September, Hipkins said officials were moving as quickly as possible to contain the sub-cluster but "repeated, deliberate and malicious spread of misinformation" was threatening the region's to block a move to alert level 1.
The Auckland August cluster became the biggest in New Zealand since Covid-19 arrived in February, with 179 people falling ill.
It has taken just under two months to eliminate Covid-19 from the community since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced four cases of infection in a family from an unknown source on August 11.
Health authorities still do not know how the first person, an Americold worker in his 50s, came into contact with the disease but suspect it was coming into contact with an infected person from overseas.
Three people died, including prominent South Auckland physician Dr Joe Williams and two brothers from the same family.