Five people accused of absconding from managed isolation in Hamilton last night wanted to attend a relative's funeral in Auckland.
Hamilton's mayor Paula Southgate told NZME the group applied for compassionate leave due to the passing of a relative but had been declined.
The Herald understands the group had sought leave to attend a funeral for a family member in Auckland today.
The five - an adult and four children - are accused of escaping from Hamilton's Distinction Hotel last night.
Four of the five were discovered shortly after their alleged break out but one, a 17-year-old boy, was on the run for hours and made it all the way to Auckland. Four of the group have been charged with breaching a Health Act notice.
Southgate says while the bid for compassionate leave does put some context around the escape "at the same time it doesn't excuse the behaviour".
"I know there have been a few people who have had to return for sad circumstances and who have been abiding by the rules for the two weeks isolation".
"It's hard, we all acknowledge it's hard in those circumstances, but we've got to play the big picture look after the whole of New Zealand and keep everyone safe."
A 37-year-old year woman and three young people were detained in Hamilton at about 7.50pm last night, police say.
The fifth person, a 17-year-old boy, was located at an address in Waitemata at about 4.40am this morning and was detained without incident.
"Arrangements are currently being made for him to appear before a Youth Court in Auckland today. The other three will appear before the Hamilton District and Youth Courts today. Locating these people was a priority for Police. We committed a considerable number of resources, including the Eagle helicopter, to our search for the young man overnight," Assistant Commissioner Scott Fraser said.
The escapees were condemned by Cabinet Minister Megan Woods last night.
Woods, the minister in charge of managed isolation and quarantine facilities, said the absconders were putting New Zealanders at risk, calling them "incredibly irresponsible".
The group would face consequences, Woods said.
One of the group, a 17-year-old boy, was on the run during the night but was discovered early this morning after a police search, Air Commodore Darryn Webb said this morning.
"A person was seen exiting over the facility fence at 7pm by the onsite police officer who immediately took action to locate and apprehend them. Four people were found and detained by 7.50pm and have been returned to the facility," Webb said last night.
All five people have returned negative results on their day three test results. The group that were returned to the Distinction Hotel were under police supervision.
A routine police patrol as part of security arrangements in place at all facilities meant apprehensions happened quickly, Woods said last night.
"People absconding from facilities before they have completed their isolation and returned negative day 12 tests are endangering the health of other New Zealanders and our Covid free status in the community.
"Everyone has to play by the rules. These people knew the rules and chose to break them and will now face the consequences."
"The speedy apprehension of four of the absconders highlights the importance of the police presence at our facilities. This is incredibly irresponsible behaviour by this group.
"Our only chance of stopping community transmission of Covid-19 is by containing all potential cases at the border, and we are doing this successfully through our managed isolation system.