By RNZ and Herald on Sunday

Grey Power is enraged by what it says is the stupid and dangerous behaviour of people fleeing managed isolation facilities, and says they need the book thrown at them.

A person broke a window and absconded from an Auckland hotel on Friday, the fourth such escape in a week.

Martin McVicar appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Friday after allegedly escaping a managed isolation facility. New Zealand Herald photograph / Christine Cornege
Martin McVicar appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Friday after allegedly escaping a managed isolation facility. New Zealand Herald photograph / Christine Cornege

The person was picked up by police about an hour later and tested negative for Covid-19 in their day-three test.

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Earlier this week a man who was later found to have Covid-19 left an Auckland isolation facility and went to a nearby supermarket.

Grey Power president Mac Welch said the shocking conduct risked spreading Covid-19 into the population - with older people particularly vulnerable.

"They're playing with people's lives, they're playing with all the hard work that the citizens of New Zealand put into containing [Covid-19] and beating it," Welch said.

"It is just so wrong, it infuriates me and I'm sure it infuriates a hang of a lot of other Kiwis."

Welch said everyone who escaped from isolation facilities needed to be punished severely.

"None of the soft, cuddly touchy rubbish that we keep seeing continuously with these people, they need to be hammered to the full extent of the law.

"If these people, who have been looked after and waited on hand and foot, are going to abuse the privilege - lock them up.

"Don't muck around, lock them up."

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People charged under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act can face either six months' imprisonment or a $4000 fine.

The National Party said the government's ineptitude was putting the public at risk.

Party spokesperson for Covid Recovery Amy Adams said the public were right to expect the government to be able to keep people from getting out of the quarantine hotels.

"It should not be beyond the capacity of the government and public service to do that.

"It is a failure from the top down and ... despite repeated assurances that they are on to it and things will be different now this stuff keeps happening."

Adams said there needed to be a zero tolerance approach to any chance of public contamination from any returning New Zealanders.

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"We need to do whatever security and whatever restrictions are required for that to happen.

Meanwhile, the fourth person who escaped from a Covid-19 managed isolation facility, broke a window and knocked on the doors of several nearby homes in the middle of the night before being found by police.

The person in their 60s broke free of security measures at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Auckland, less than nine hours after Hamilton escapee Martin McVicar, 52, appeared in court facing a charge of intentional damage of a 52-inch TV and intentionally failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 by leaving a managed isolation facility and purchasing alcohol.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, head of managed isolation and quarantine, revealed yesterday the person escaped after breaking and then climbing out of a window.

They then climbed perimeter fencing shortly after 11pm on Friday.

"They were picked up by police at about 12.15am and immediately returned to the facility where they were put under guard," Webb said.

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"The individual had allegedly knocked on three residents' doors while outside the facility. The first property did not answer. The second property called 111. At the third property the individual apparently spoke to a couple.

"Public health will be talking to local residents to reassure them of the low risk and provide any advice."

Webb said the person was being "offered health and welfare support".

A resident whose property backs on to the hotel said police had been knocking on the doors of neighbouring houses yesterday asking if they knew anything or had contact with the person.

Another Waipuna Rd resident, Lynne Revell, told the Herald on Sunday she was "not wonderfully happy" that a returnee had managed to escape.

She said those who fled the facilities should be prosecuted.

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The Ministry of Health also said yesterday there was one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities.

A woman in her 20s who arrived in New Zealand on July 2 from London, via Doha and Sydney, had tested positive.

She had been in managed isolation at the Sudima Christchurch Airport and is now in quarantine. She had previously been identified as a close contact of another case.

There are now 24 active Covid-19 cases in New Zealand but no one is receiving hospital care.

Meanwhile, a Queenstown woman yesterday said she had warned McVicar not to leave his Hamilton isolation hotel to visit a liquor store.

Cory McVicar – understood to be the daughter of the charged man - said she was surprised by the news.

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Although she would not disclose her relationship to Martin McVicar, she said she had spoken to him earlier in the week and "I told him not to do it".

McVicar was arrested after he allegedly cut through fence ties to break out of a managed isolation facility on Thursday. He allegedly absconded from the Distinction Hotel and went to a nearby liquor store, picking up some beer and wine before leaving.

The man has twice tested negative for Covid-19, first in a test taken on day three of his isolation period, and again on Friday.

She said the conditions in the isolation hotel were tough.

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"You don't understand what it is like. They are not allowed to leave their rooms, there are guards in the hallways.

"He wouldn't hurt anyone. This is a frustrating and stressful time for everyone."

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The man is set to reappear in the Hamilton District Court on Wednesday.