A painter has been jailed in New Zealand after he broke lockdown rules by entering a coronavirus quarantine facility and hugging a friend who was isolating.
Jesse Courtney Welsh, 33, from Morningside, Auckland, received a six week prison sentence after hugging a friend who was isolating after returning home from Australia, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Welsh appeared at Whangārei District Court yesterday after previously pleading guilty to being unlawfully in an enclosed yard.
He also faced charges of careless driving and failing to stop.
Police withdrew the charge for failing to comply with a Covid-19 order because it had been wrongly laid.
Sentencing judge Keith de Ridder said: ‘This was not an example of people under severe stress because of a family death or some other reason. You knew full well about the quarantine rules and was not just content with talking to him, but hugged him as well.’
Judge de Ridder also said that Welsh had been out celebrating with friends in Auckland on August 7 before going to visit his friend at the Crowne Plaza hotel, who had arrived back in New Zealand on July 29.
When police spotted Welsh talking with his friend at the hotel he refused to engage with them and then drove off.
He was arrested the next day in Whangārei.
John Day, the lawyer representing Welsh, said that his client fully accepted responsibility for his actions.
He also said: ‘His own words to me were ‘it was a real dumb thing to do.’
Welsh was also sentenced to a concurrent six week jail term on the charge of failing to stop and he was convicted and discharged for careless driving.
Welsh is now isolating and has had three coronavirus tests, all of which have returned negative.
New Zealand is currently facing a second wave of coronavirus cases after they reported 11 more today.
The country now has 105 active cases, most of which have been linked to the Auckland cluster which sparked the nationwide lockdown.
The country, which is due to ease restrictions next week, will remain lockdown over the weekend as the number of cases continues to rise.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss the possibility of extending the lockdown.