By RNZ

The Chief Ombudsman says he will inspect Covid-19 isolation and quarantine facilities set up for people arriving from overseas.

Peter Boshier announced his new inspection programme to Parliament's Governance and Administration Committee this morning.

The Government is under fire after two women in isolation were allowed to drive from Auckland to Wellington without being tested for Covid-19. They later tested positive.

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Boshier said isolation facilities fall within his designation, so a new inspection programme will independently monitor and report on them.

He said the public needs to be assured that people who are being isolated for health reasons are being treated fairly and their basic human rights were being respected.

Boshier said he understood about 3500 people were in managed isolation or quarantine, as at June 16.

"Thousands more have completed their mandatory 14 days in isolation since border control measures were introduced on April 9. The Ministry of Health is providing accommodation in multiple facilities including hotels."

Boshier said the Government-funded programme aimed at helping stop Covid-19 was of an unprecedented scale and was likely to continue for many more months while New Zealand's borders are closed.

"People may be staying in hotels but they are not actual guests. People in quarantine can't leave their rooms and those in managed isolation are not allowed to leave the premises without permission of health officials. Even then, their outside activities are closely supervised."

Boshier said the inspection team would be small and the inspections would focus on specific Covid-19 criteria.

"Among other things, inspectors will be looking at the policies in place to manage suspected cases of Covid-19.

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"We'll also look at people's access to fresh air and exercise. We'll also consider whether people in managed isolation are able to keep a physical distance from members of the public including other hotel patrons and staff."

The inspections would be conducted under Opcat (the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture). Investigations are likely to follow similar lines to those recently conducted in prisons, mental health facilities and aged care facilities.

The inspections are due to start next month and Ombudsman staff will be wearing protective equipment when required.