Police in New Zealand have been given the power to enter private homes without a warrant in order to ensure people are following coronavirus restrictions.
The COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill was rushed through Parliament on Wednesday in time for alert level 2, passing 63 votes to 57. The passing of the bill comes despite the Human Rights Commission saying it’s “deeply concerned” about the lack of scrutiny due to the rushed process.
“There has been no input from ordinary New Zealanders, which is deeply regrettable,” said chief human rights commissioner Paul Hunt.
Mr Hunt warned the new legislation gives police powers unseen for many years.
In a post on Facebook, National Party MP Simeon Brown warned the legislation is one of the most extreme to ever be passed in New Zealand parliament.
“We all want to see the end of COVID-19,” Mr Brown said. “And we all want to unite in the fight against it, but we also want to protect our freedoms that we have as New Zealanders. We want to protect our democracy. This bill goes against that.”
Mr Brown went on to warn, “The police now have the ability to enter your home, enter your most sacred place, to be able to ensure that you’re following the rules.
“And if you don’t open the door for them, they have the power to force themselves into your home to make sure that you don’t have more than ten guests around for a cup of tea, or whatever it might be.”
In a speech before parliament on Tuesday, Mr Brown warned, “Your home being your castle is no longer sacred under this legislation.”