The pause on quarantine-free travel from New South Wales to New Zealand will continue for a further 12 days, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.
There are now 36 recent community cases of Covid-19 in the Australian state – including four not yet linked to the existing outbreak that are urgently being investigated by health officials.
Hipkins announced the pause had been extended on Thursday evening, after initially announcing a 72-hour pause amid the growing number of cases on Tuesday.
This decision follows a further public health assessment on Thursday, in which officials considered a range of factors – whether any new cases are identified, the results from Covid-19 testing of any contacts identified and from the wider Sydney community, Hipkins said.
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New Zealand public health staff remain in close contact with New South Wales authorities about the actions being taken in Sydney, and will review the decision to continue the pause late next week.
It comes after a Sydney man tested positive for Covid-19 after spending the weekend in Wellington, prompting the region to move to alert level 2.
The Wellington region – including Wairarapa and the Kāpiti Coast up to Ōtaki – is in alert level 2 until 11.59pm on Sunday after the man, who contracted Covid-19 before arriving in New Zealand, spent two days in the capital.
Four close contacts of the man have returned negative results.
In announcing the extension of the travel bubble pause, Hipkins said the Government “strongly believes a cautious approach is the best course of action” while investigations continue across the ditch.
Anyone who has only been in Norfolk Island and not elsewhere in New South Wales is still eligible for quarantine-free travel.
However, anyone who was at a location of interest at the specified times cannot travel to New Zealand within 14 days of the exposure event. This applies to all travellers, no matter what Australian state or territory they are departing from.
Passengers will be asked on departure from Australia by their airline and on arrival in New Zealand by Customs at the eGate if they have been at a location of interest.
All travellers to New Zealand must also complete the Nau Mai Ra travel declaration which allows contact tracers to get in touch with them if they’ve been in an affected area at the relevant time but have since travelled to New Zealand.
The travel pause also applies to those transiting through NSW. This means people cannot drive through the state to another state to fly to New Zealand, or leave NSW by air to get to another airport.
New Zealand health officials recently updated their advice for anyone already in New Zealand who has recently visited Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction mall.
New South Wales public health officials are continuing to add new locations of interest. Anyone who has been in Sydney since June 11 should check the NSW Health website.
Anyone who has been at these locations of interest at the specified times should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453, get tested and self-isolate until they return a negative result.