Distraught family members who were allegedly let through Auckland's border by compassionate police officers for the funeral of their Covid-infected father subsequently had their border exemption application declined.
Three siblings travelled from Whangārei to farewell their father before they received a response from the Ministry of Health on their application, the Herald has been told.
The family claim they were allowed into Auckland and attended the funeral, after which their travel exemption application was declined.
Now they fear they may have trouble returning home.
Their 68-year-old father died while self-isolating in his Glen Eden home 12 days after becoming infected with Covid-19. He was farewelled by a group of 25 people at his graveside on Wednesday.
His wife and elderly mother, who had been in hospital battling the virus, were able to leave and attend the funeral service.
"We had our prayers and we said goodbye. It was a beautiful farewell," said the man's daughter, who the Herald has agreed not to identify.
Her two sisters and brother travelled from Northland yesterday to attend the funeral.
She claimed they were advised they would not need an exemption to travel through Auckland's border if they provided paperwork such as their father's death certificate and letters from the coroner and police.
"We were told by one of the police officers we were talking to . . . they would send the details through [to border staff] including the death certificate," the man's daughter said.
"But when my siblings got to the border they were denied entry by [an officer]. He said, 'No these are the rules and we have to follow the rules, there are no exceptions, you need to get an exemption'.
"But once that [officer] finished work a couple of [other officers] said, 'Look we will just let you through' and they let my siblings through on the basis they were adamant the exemption would be accepted."
The man's funeral took place yesterday morning.
"It was beautiful to see all these people come and give my dad the farewell that he deserved and all the phone calls that have been coming through from... the people that he knew...just calling and saying, 'Look he was such an amazing person'," his daughter said.
But she said yesterday afternoon her siblings received a letter that their border exemption application had been declined on the basis they could not provide a registry of people attending the funeral.
With the funeral being planned so quickly after her father died, the woman said they could not pull together a list of attendees in time.
"For them to deny it . . . because we don't have a list of who's going to be attending, I just thought was really heartless, especially knowing our background and culture and religious beliefs.
"It just has to happen so quickly. We can't have a funeral a week later, or two weeks later, when you can organise all these things."
The woman said her siblings are now worried they might not be able to travel home next week.
"These are such exceptional circumstances and you just hope for some sort of compassion, some sort of relief to come through, but it doesn't."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said people are permitted to cross an alert level boundary if they are returning home, but they must carry evidence of their home address and evidence they have received a negative Covid-19 test within the previous 72 hours.
"Police are responsible for checking that people moving across alert level boundaries are travelling for permitted reasons, or have evidence of a valid exemption.
"The ministry acknowledges that rules around movement across alert levels can be inconvenient and at times distressing, but the highly transmissible Delta variant means strong precautions are necessary."
The family plan to spend time together over the next few days, praying and grieving their loss.
"It's still really quite hard because it's only a few days ago that it happened and you're still processing the emotions," the man's daughter said.
"When someone passes you always think about what you could have done better, and I wish I could go back and change things."
Police could not comment because the family did not provide details around the time of the alleged border breach.
Earlier this week she told the Herald from the outset the sick family relied on advice from a fragmented Covid-19 health response that allegedly never gave her father a directive to go to hospital, instead offering throat lozenges and paracetamol as treatment.
She said Covid entered the household last month when her brother tested positive.
Despite telling health officials there were a number of vulnerable people in the home, including a woman in her 90s and a child under 10, he was told to self-isolate at the property and wait for public health to make contact.
Despite following the rules, all the adults in the home contracted the infection.
Last week two people who had been isolating at home with Covid died.
A man in his 40s died in a Manukau apartment and a man in his 50s died on Friday at a Mt Eden property after discharging himself from hospital.
According to today's Covid briefing, there are almost 3000 people isolating at home. That includes 1382 Covid-positive cases across 920 homes.