New Zealand man jailed for six weeks for hugging quarantining friend

New Zealand man, 33, who hugged a quarantining friend is JAILED for six weeks for breaking strict coronavirus rules

  • Jesse Courtney Welsh appeared at Whangārei District Court yesterday
  • The painter previously pleaded guilty to being unlawfully in an enclosed yard
  • On August 7 he hugged an isolating friend at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Auckland

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.

Jesse Courtney Welsh, 33, (pictured appearing in court via video link on Wednesday) from Morningside, Auckland, received a six week prison sentence after hugging a friend who was isolating after returning home from Australia

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.

Welsh had been out celebrating with friends in Auckland on August 7 before going to visit his friend at the Crowne Plaza hotel (pictured), who had arrived back in New Zealand on July 29

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.

New Zealand records first cases of community transmission of COVID-19 for 102 days 

THE CASES

  • Four members of a south Auckland family have tested positive to COVID-19.
  • The ‘index case’ is a person in their 50s who has been symptomatic for five days and has no overseas travel history.
  • Six family members received a rapid test on Tuesday evening; three tests came back positive and three are negative.
  • A student at Auckland’s Mount Albert Grammar School has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Health authorities are awaiting the test results for another four ‘probable’ cases of coronavirus – three adults and a teenager – linked to a family cluster.
  • Health officials are moving to isolate and test contacts of the family, including two Auckland workplaces.

THE RESPONSE

  • Auckland returns to a ‘level three’ lockdown from noon on Wednesday until midnight on Friday. Aucklanders are being asked to stay home except for essential work or essential needs.
  • The rest of New Zealand returns to ‘level two’ for the same timeframe, with caps on gatherings and the return of social distancing.
  • These measures have been enacted to buy health officials time time to test and isolate contacts, and to locate the source of the outbreak.
  • Every worker at NZ’s border regime and managed isolation facility will also be tested in the next few days.

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