Australian deportees who were meant to be self-isolating at a high-end Auckland CBD hotel after arriving in New Zealand were seen "running around freely" and "harassing" nearby staff.
One man allegedly had to be consoled by staff after he entered a nearby premises, crying and intoxicated.
Police confirmed four "recent deportees from Australia", aged between 20 and 32, were arrested and charged in Auckland CBD last night.
They were charged with breaching conditions under the Returning Offender (Management and Information) Act by failing to comply with official guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
However, the charges were dismissed during a hearing at Auckland District Court today. The men were dialled into the courtroom.
One man was also charged with behaving in a disorderly manner in a public place. He is due to appear in Auckland District Court in January in relation to this charge.
The group will stay at the Ramada Hotel to complete the final 48 hours of isolation, the court heard.
It is understood the deportees were sent to self-isolate for three days at the five-star Avani Metropolis Residences on Kitchener St after spending seven days in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility.
The group had been deported to New Zealand from a detention centre in Australia.
A business owner, who did not want to be identified, saw men roaming Auckland's CBD and walking into retail stores yesterday.
"It was like a circus."
"We had a couple of people out of character coming in, we sort of know if someone is out of town from their accents."
He said one young man came into a store crying and intoxicated.
"He was worried he had no place to go after this and [that] he's been dropped in a s***hole country, that's what he said.
"This person was meant to be self-isolating, but we were trying to babysit this guy but at the same time he was aggressive, we were trying to calm him down, so there's no bubble."
The businessman called police. He said it was "like a circus outside", and officers were "gathering" deportees in "all sorts of corners".
"They are running around freely, shopping wherever they wanted to."
He said 15 to 20 police officers came and arrested the men because it was "getting out of hand".
The business owner is worried for his and others' safety, since there appeared to be no social distancing.
"If he tests positive we are all screwed. He's mingled with everyone in the street.
"There's obviously no system for these deportees coming back. It seems like it's so stupid they would even put 15 people in these premises where there's no control.
"If they're self-isolating, there should be blocked off access to certain places."
Metropolis Body Corporate chair Fran O'Sullivan said the corporate's committee was "dismayed at events of the past 24" hours involving deportees from Australia.
"The Body Corporate had earlier ruled that Metropolis will not accept Australia border force deportees in our predominantly residential building. Unfortunately, a booking error - made out of Australia - saw the deportees checked into some of the hotel rooms within the building on Wednesday evening.
We have been assured by the hotel operator - which is responsible for just 25 per cent of the units in Metropolis - that the remaining deportees will leave Metropolis tomorrow."
Avani Hotels and Resorts said the men were "guests of Australian Border Force".
"Property management has been adhering to all Ministry of Health public health orders to ensure all requirements as a managed isolation facility have been upheld and we are further assisting authorities with their inquiries in every way possible."
Like all arrivals from overseas, deportees are required to stay in managed isolation (or if they are symptomatic, quarantine) at an approved facility for 7 days and then go into self isolation until the result of a day 9 test has been received.
Corrections Deputy National Commissioner Leigh Marsh said the deportees had completed their seven day period in managed isolation, and had been moved to a new accommodation facility for their self isolation period.
Plans were now underway to return them to a managed isolation facility for their remaining isolation period.
Marsh said the men have very limited support networks in New Zealand so it hadn't yet been possible to secure safe long-term accommodation for them.
"We recognise that the best scenario would have been for them to remain in managed isolation for the full ten day period, rather than to face a disruptive move to a temporary address for self isolation after seven days as the new managed isolation regime requires."
"Ahead of this incident, we were working with MBIE to allow people subject to a Returning Offender Order to stay in the dedicated managed isolation facility for the full isolation period.
We are now urgently progressing this work, as we know it is critically important that people subject to a Returning Offender Order comply with isolation requirements in order to prevent any risk to the public."