Morning Briefing June 19: Confusion reigns as border blunders rumble on

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the East Coast early this morning.

Source: 1 NEWS

The quake hit 710km north-east of Gisborne and measured 33km deep. Nearly 9000 people registered feeling the jolt.

Civil Defence says there’s no tsunami threat to New Zealand, however coastal areas may experience strong and unusual currents. 

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PM clears up confusion

Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister's office addressed confusion last night after Jacinda Ardern appointed Air Commodore Digby Webb to take over the country's isolation and quarantine processes.

It's been revealed the senior Defence Force official had already been heading border controls for some weeks, including when the decision was made to allow two women to leave isolation early.

However, the Prime Minister's office says Air Commodore Webb's previous role didn’t include responsibility for any health aspects and he didn’t oversee any previous compassionate exemptions. 

Border blunder rumbles on

Meanwhile, 1 NEWS has revealed guests who shared an Auckland hotel with two women who tested positive for Covid-19 this week were transferred to Christchurch in the middle of their isolation.

One of those guests, Cayden Wilson, told 1 NEWS the transfer involved around 100 people mingling from different hotels, with no testing undertaken beforehand. 

Multiple people now say they have left isolation without a Covid-19 test.

Stuff is also reporting that a guest from the Novotel Ellerslie hotel where the two virus-carrying women stayed is being moved to quarantine at the Jet Park Hotel after developing symptoms of the disease. New Zealand’s newest Covid-19 case, a man who recently arrived from Pakistan, is also at the Jet Park Hotel. 

The handling of this week’s new cases has obviously sent jitters through the public, too. One of Auckland’s drive-through testing facilities says it’s seen quadruple demand over the past few days.

And questions will likely be asked as to how a homeless man managed to bluff his way into a 14-day stay at one of the hotels being used for isolating arrivals.

Stuff reports the man walked straight into the Crowne Plaza hotel without any questions.

1 NEWS exposed major flaws in the isolation procedures at the same hotel last week.

Big drop in GDP

And as Kiwis nervously watch for potential health ramifications from the latest Covid-19 cases, the devastating impact of the virus on the economy has again been highlighted.

The first snapshot of New Zealand’s GDP since Covid-19 halted much of the country’s economic activity has revealed a decrease of 1.6 per cent – the biggest quarterly fall in nearly 30 years.

NZTA ruling upsets locals

As heavy snow blankets parts of the South Island, a ban on snow chains through Arthur’s Pass has had an icy reception.

NZTA’s new ruling means roads will totally close in icy conditions. The move saw the Arthur’s Pass road shut for 19 hours last weekend, which has angered business owners and residents.

There’s also concern about emergency services not being allowed through for medical events.

Meanwhile, in other weather-related news, drought continues to cause major headaches in the north.

RNZ reports Auckland is on the cusp of an emergency water crisis with Watercare pleading with residents to continue conserving water as they scramble to secure extra sources of it.

Many drought-stricken farmers in parts of the North Island are also still doing it tough. The Government is now offering an extra $3 million to help them recover. 

Other news of note this morning:

Dame Vera Lynn, the iconic British singer best known for her wartime song We’ll Meet Again, has died at the age of 103.

A second tranche of gun reforms prompted by the Christchurch terror attack has passed its final reading at Parliament. 

Wellington’s port is getting $15 million to go towards cutting emissions, as part of the Green Investment Finance’s first payout

Stuff reports Scott Watson's application to have his murder convictions reconsidered is now in the hands of the Justice Minister.

The first World Albatross Day is being celebrated in Dunedin this morning. However, it comes just days after one of the rare birds died at Wellington Zoo due to plastic found in its stomach.

Auckland’s Queen Street is to become largely car-free next month as Auckland Council starts a trial to prioritise pedestrians.

And the beloved buffet is becoming an endangered dining experience. The all-you-can-eat affair is being ditched by many establishments over health concerns. 

And finally...

Source: 1 NEWS

Around 600 Kiwi men die each year from prostate cancer, despite the disease being very treatable if it’s caught early.

So, when broadcaster Mark Sainsbury invited Seven Sharp’s Jeremy Wells on a date to get their prostates checked together, it proved an offer impossible to refuse.

They’re urging anyone in possession of a prostate to go and do the same – because that quick, painless check might just save your life.