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PM on Ruby Princess: We’re seeking legal advice

8 Apr 2020  By Staff Reporter | | @tourismticker

The Government is seeking advice on whether to take legal action after the cruise ship Ruby Princess allegedly allowed coronavirus-infected passengers to disembark at Napier.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she had instructed attorney general David Parker to consult with the Crown Law Office on whether the ship broke rules around letting ill passengers off in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern

The Ruby Princess left Sydney on 8 March for an 11-day cruise and visited Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Hawke’s Bay before returning to Australia on 19 March.

“The obligation’s on a cruise ship such as this is to ensure that anyone who is unwell essentially does not disembark,” said Ardern.

“So, I know specifically for the Hawke’s Bay, I’ve been advised that those assurances were directly sought from their medical officer of health, from the captain directly before individuals disembarked.

“On that basis, given you’ll see that we have cases in the Hawke’s Bay, I have asked minister Parker to seek legal advice from Crown Law as to whether or not the Ruby Princess while in New Zealand fulfilled all of its obligations under our laws because, of course, we are now suffering the consequences of cases here in New Zealand as a result of that cruise ship.”

The announcement follows legal firm Shine Lawyers in Australia preparing a class action against operator Carnival Australia after hundreds of passengers on the Ruby Princess became infected with coronavirus, eleven of whom have died in Australia.

Shine said yesterday that the ship’s 2700 passengers were allowed to disembark in Australia and return home and were not told that there had been an outbreak of the virus on the vessel affecting 158 people. Since then, more than 600 people from the ship have tested positive for Covid-19.

Australian police launched a criminal investigation on Sunday.

A cluster of 16 people in Napier has been connected with the ship’s visit last month.

“I’m seeking legal advice on whether or not we should be pursuing that further so it’s very preliminary stages,” said Ardern.

“Because they have existing obligations because those obligations include making sure that people who are unwell essentially do not disembark and we now have Covid-19 transmission that directly links back to that ship, not from passengers but from people who had contact with passengers – that raises significant questions and so I’ve sought legal advice around that.”

Carnival Australia is part of Carnival Corporation, which is based in Florida, United States.


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