The New Zealand government acted illegally in managing Covid-19 border controls, a court ruled on Wednesday, saying the system denied citizens the right to return home.
In a 140-page written decision, Judge Gillian Mallon said the managed isolation and quarantine process did not adequately consider and prioritize personal circumstances.
Judge Mallon found that the system itself was an important component of the coronavirus eradication strategy.
But she said its failure to take into account people’s specific needs meant the government was acting “illegally, unreasonably, and in violation of the Bill of Rights, which states that every New Zealand citizen has the right to enter New Zealand.”
Complaint to Wellington High Court was filed in February grounded kiwisan advocacy group that lobbied for the relaxation of restrictions.
It argued that New Zealanders living overseas had been deprived of their rights and some had been traumatized by failed attempts to return home.
His task was focused on the restrictions that were in place between September 1 and December 17 last year.
Demand for limited lockdown and quarantine hotel rooms in the country vastly exceeded supply during this period, meaning thousands of people missed out on places on the lottery-based booking system.
Passport numbers were entered into “virtual lobbies” and only a small percentage of people were given a room if successful.
Examples given during the trial include a woman who was stranded abroad and unable to return home to bury her only son when he died in a medical accident.
Another was unable to attend while her son was being treated for cancer.
The isolation and quarantine requirement was lifted for all returning New Zealand citizens in mid-March.
Crown lawyer Edin Boadita-Cormican defended the system in court and said it was designed to be a fair defense for all New Zealanders at home and abroad in extreme circumstances.