New Zealand has extended the closure of quarantine-free ‘travel bubble’ flights from NSW following Sydney’s growing coronavirus outbreak, which has now been reported to include one trans-Tasman traveller.
The snap shut-down came into effect at 12.01am on Wednesday June 23 for at least 72 hours, but will now remain in effect until 11.59pm (NZ time) on Wednesday July 7.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health says that people cannot travel to NZ from anywhere in Australia if they have been in NSW after 9.59pm (Sydney time) on Tuesday June 22.
This also applies to people transiting through NSW, meaning that people from other states can’t for example drive or fly to Sydney and then hop onto a flight to New Zealand.
A Sydneysider who visited the NZ capital of Wellington from Saturday earlier this month tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving home, with New Zealand’s Ministry of Health suggesting the travellers contracted the virus in Sydney before going on holiday.
NSW Health has since flagged both flights – QF163 from Sydney to Wellington on June 18, and NZ247 Wellington-Sydney on June 21 – as being “of concern associated with confirmed cases of COVID19.”
Passengers on both flights “are considered close contacts and must immediately call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, get tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the result.”
This is the third time the New Zealand bubble has closed to residents of an Australian state since the COVID-safe corridor opened on April 24.
Flights from both NSW and Victoria were separately halted in late May after a rash of community cases emerged in Sydney and Melbourne.
Although the NSW pause proved brief, the Victoria ban remained in place for four weeks and has only now been lifted.