Australian deportees who were meant to be self-isolating at a high-end Auckland CBD hotel after arriving in New Zealand were seen "running around freely" and "harassing" nearby staff.
One man allegedly had to be consoled by staff after he entered a nearby premises, crying and intoxicated.
Police confirmed four "recent deportees from Australia", aged between 20 and 32, were arrested and charged in Auckland CBD last night.
They were charged with breaching conditions under the Returning Offender (Management and Information) Act by failing to comply with official guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
However, the charges were dismissed during a hearing at Auckland District Court today. The men were dialled into the courtroom.
One man was also charged with behaving in a disorderly manner in a public place. He is due to appear in Auckland District Court in January in relation to this charge.
The group will stay at the Ramada Hotel to complete the final 48 hours of isolation, the court heard.
It is understood the deportees were sent to self-isolate for three days at the five-star Avani Metropolis Residences on Kitchener St after spending seven days in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility.
The group had been deported to New Zealand from a detention centre in Australia.
However, a business owner, who did not want to be identified, saw men roaming Auckland's CBD and walking into retail stores yesterday.
"It was like a circus."
"We had a couple of people out of character coming in, we sort of know if someone is out of town from their accents."
He said one young man came into a store crying and intoxicated.
"He was worried he had no place to go after this and [that] he's been dropped in a s***hole country, that's what he said.
"This person was meant to be self-isolating, but we were trying to babysit this guy but at the same time he was aggressive, we were trying to calm him down, so there's no bubble."
The businessman called police. He said it was "like a circus outside", and officers were "gathering" deportees in "all sorts of corners".
"They are running around freely, shopping wherever they wanted to."
He said 15 to 20 police officers came and arrested the men because it was "getting out of hand".
The business owner is worried for his and others' safety, since there appeared to be no social distancing.
"If he tests positive we are all screwed. He's mingled with everyone in the street.
"There's obviously no system for these deportees coming back. It seems like it's so stupid they would even put 15 people in these premises where there's no control.
"If they're self-isolating, there should be blocked off access to certain places."
Avani Hotels and Resorts said the men were "guests of Australian Border Force".
"Property management has been adhering to all Ministry of Health public health orders to ensure all requirements as a managed isolation facility have been upheld and we are further assisting authorities with their inquiries in every way possible."