Today, the government of New Zealand announced that quarantine-free travel to and from Australia would be paused for 72 hours. The quarantine-free scheme, known as the Trans-Tasman bubble, was put on hold due to multiple cases and outbreaks in Australia “in differing stages of containment.” Let’s take a closer look at this news and how it has impacted travelers thus far.

Numerous flights have been canceled due to the surprise decision. Photo: Airbus

“This short pause will give us time to get a better understanding of the developing situation and to consider the potential implementation of a range of measures to make the bubble safer, such as the introduction of pre-departure testing for all flights from Australia to New Zealand.” -Government of New Zealand

Quarantine-free travel from Australia paused

Opened in late April, the Trans-Tasman bubble allowed for quarantine-free travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand. This was also reciprocal, allowing Kiwis the ability to travel to Australia without needing to isolate for a certain period of time. On Thursday, it was announced that there would be a pause on this scheme with travelers from the Australian state of New South Wales.

However, this will now apply to all of Australia. This hold will come into effect from 22:30 (NZT) on June 26th until at least 23:59 (NZT) on Tuesday, June 29th. The decision follows updated public health advice from New Zealand’s health officials.

“There are now multiple cases and outbreaks in Australia in differing stages of containment and the health risk for New Zealand in response to these cases is increasing.” -Government of New Zealand

The Government says that it will continue to monitor the situation closely, opting to review the decision on Monday.

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Dozens of Qantas flights have been canceled, with its customer service channels overloaded with inquiries. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons 

Flight cancelations surge

Due to the announcements issued today and Thursday, numerous flights have been canceled, leaving many would-be travelers stranded. Indeed, New Zealand’s move today has made things more challenging.

Stuff.co.nz noted yesterday that the government was working on contingency plans for its citizens stranded in Sydney as a result of the additional restrictions on travelers from New South Wales announced on Thursday.

The flight cancelations of Qantas’ QF143 service to Auckland from Sydney. Photo: FlightRadar24.com 

The recent decisions appear to have overwhelmed the customer service channels of Qantas, which posted to Twitter, acknowledging that they were experiencing high volumes of calls and messages.

Frustration and inconvenience

 

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins issued the following statement further explaining the government’s decision, citing concerns with the recent Delta variant first

New Zealand is fully closing the trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia for at least three days following the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and other areas of Australia.

It says quarantine free travel from all Australian states and territories will be paused until 11.59pm (NZT) on Tuesday, June 29.

NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the decision will be reviewed on Monday.

He said New Zealand would consider implementing of a range of measures to make the bubble safer, such as pre-departure testing for all flights from Australia.

“I acknowledge the frustration and inconvenience that comes with this pause, but given the high level of transmissibility of what appears to be the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand,” Mr Hipkins said in a statement on Saturday night

More than five million people in Sydney and its surrounds have gone into a 14-day lockdown as health authorities try to regain control of a coronavirus outbreak that has ballooned to 80 cases.

NZ officials had already closed the trans-Tasman bubble to NSW until July 7 at the earliest.

Since opening in mid-April, the bubble has been partially closed for more than half the time, but this is the first full closure.

On Friday, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern postponed a visit to Australia next month due to the worsening COVID environment.

Ms Ardern was to visit a number of states – including NSW – in the first week of July on a trade and tourism effort.

She has not left New Zealand since the onset of COVID-19.

Queensland and Victorian leaders have told residents not to travel to NSW and warning of the ramifications of trying to cross their borders after being in a hotspot.

Victoria have posted extra police at the border and travellers run the risk of being turned around or fined up to $5000.

Tasmania has closed its border to regions affected by the lockdown, and Western Australia has reintroduced a “hard border” with the entire state of NSW.

Speculation is increasing one of the nation’s premier sporting events, State of Origin, will have to be rescheduled or relocated, with game three between NSW and Queensland due to be played in Sydney on July 14.

In the Northern Territory, a fresh positive case in a worker at a mine 540km northwest of Alice Springs has caused it to shut down and forced hundreds of workers into isolation.

More than 1600 people in three states have been ordered into isolation after he tested positive to the coronavirus at the Newmont-owned Granites gold mine in the Tanami desert.

New Zealand‘s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a pause on the trans-Tasman travel bubble, as coronavirus cases rise in multiple states.

As of 10.30pm NZST (8.30pm AEST) Australians will no longer be able to take advantage of quarantine free travel regardless of which state or territory they’re living in.

“There are now multiple cases and outbreaks in Australia in differing stages of containment and the health risk for New Zealand in response to these cases is increasing,” a statement said.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a pause on the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, as coronavirus cases rise in multiple states (Getty)

“As a result the Government has taken the precautionary step of temporarily widening the current pause with New South Wales to include all of Australia.

“This short pause will give us time to get a better understanding of the developing situation and to consider the potential implementation of a range of measures to make the bubble safer, such as the introduction of pre-departure testing for all flights from Australia to New Zealand.”

The new restrictions will be in place for three days, until 11.59pm NZST (9.59pm AEST) on Tuesday, June 29.

The NZ government plans to re-asses the situation on Monday and will advise if the pause will be extended but maintain they “remain committed to Quarantine Free Travel with Australia”.

New Zealand.
The NZ government has asked anyone who was in Australia from June 21 onwards to monitor their health but will not be required to isolate (Getty)

“I acknowledge the frustration and inconvenience that comes with this pause, but given the high level of transmissibility of what appears to be the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand,” Mr Hipkins said in a statement.

The NZ government has asked anyone who was in Australia from June 21 onwards to monitor their health but will not be required to isolate.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says there is still a level of concern about the way this virus has spread “fleetingly” between some cases. Video / Sky News Australia

New Zealand has halted its quarantine-free travel bubble with New South Wales as Sydney battles a growing Covid outbreak.

The pause takes effect from 11.59pm tonight and is scheduled to last for 72 hours, the Government has just announced.

“This decision follows a public health assessment today which determined that while the overall risk to public health in New Zealand currently remains low, there are still several unknowns, including a case that was infectious while in the Sydney community and a primary-school-age child with no clear link established at present,” Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said tonight.

“The Government is taking a precautionary approach and will review the decision to pause again on Thursday.”

There are now 21 community cases linked to the highly infectious Delta virus strain with 10 new cases reported today in New South Wales.

Passengers on two flights which travelled between Sydney and Wellington have been identified as close contacts.

It includes Qantas flight QF163 which departed Sydney just after 7pm last Friday and arrived in Wellington on Saturday at about 12am.

Air New Zealand flight NZ247 which flew out from Wellington at 10am yesterday and arrived in Sydney at 11.30am has also been flagged.

New South Wales Health issued the alert – and has asked everyone on the flights to get tested and isolated for 14-days.

Updated advice for travellers from NSW

NZ health officials have updated their advice to anyone now in this country who had recently visited Sydney’s Westfield Bondi Junction mall.

One of the new cases reported today is connected to the busy mall which is popular with Kiwi tourists.

“In line with NSW Health’s advice: anyone in New Zealand who was at Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) in Sydney’s Bondi Junction at any time between 12 June and 18 June should contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453, get tested and stay at home until they get a negative test result, or remain isolated if instructed.”

Anyone who has been in Sydney since June 11 is asked to check the NSH Health website.

In New South Wales all but one of today’s new Covid cases have been linked to the highly infectious Delta virus strain.

All bar one of the new cases is linked to existing cases.

The mystery case is a Year 3 student who attends a school in Waverley, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

New Zealand contact tracing teams last week got in touch with 6824 passengers from New South Wales, who arrived in the country before last Wednesday, when the first recent community case in Sydney was announced.

These were travellers who had been in NSW since June 11.

There are 16 contacts related to locations of interest in Sydney that are currently in New Zealand.

The majority of these contacts identified themselves by calling Healthline –

New Zealand has temporarily paused its travel bubble with NSW in response to the state’s growing coronavirus outbreak.

The pause will come into effect on Tuesday night and be reviewed on Thursday, New Zealand’s coronavirus response minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

“The pause will come into force from 11.59pm NZT and be in place for 72 hours initially,” he said.

“As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review.

“This decision follows a public health assessment today which determined that while the overall risk to public health in New Zealand currently remains low, there are still several unknowns, including a case that was infectious while in the Sydney community and a primary school age child with no clear link established at present.”

It comes as the New Zealand Ministry of Health announced late on Monday night the pause of quarantine free travel from Victoria to New Zealand would be lifted at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

Travellers arrive from New Zealand in April. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Travellers arrive from New Zealand in April. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Kiwi public health officials said the Covid-19 risk from Victoria was low and flights between Melbourne and New Zealand destinations could resume.

Travellers will no longer be required to have a pre-departure Covid-19 test.

New Zealand paused the travel bubble with Victoria on May 25 as Melbourne grappled with another local coronavirus outbreak.

“In the past week there have been no new cases in Victoria with the Delta variant of concern,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“Victorian health officials have determined there is unlikely to be widespread community transmission.”

Australians who have been at any of the exposure sites in Victoria, NSW, Queensland or the ACT in the last 14 days at the specified times are still not allowed to travel to New Zealand.

The announcement comes just in time for Victoria’s winter school holidays that are due to begin on Friday.

Tasmania also lifted its restrictions on travel from metropolitan Melbourne overnight.

“Anyone currently in quarantine in Tasmania who was in the metropolitan Melbourne area – but was not at a specified high-risk premises – is able to leave quarantine at midnight,” Director of Public Health Dr Mark Veitch.

Quarantine free travel from Melbourne Airport with New Zealand can resume Picture: Jake Nowakowski.

Quarantine free travel from Melbourne Airport with New Zealand can resume Picture: Jake Nowakowski.

“Travel restrictions will remain in place for anyone who has been at any high-risk premises in Victoria at the specified dates and times listed.

“Anyone who is planning on travelling to Tasmania who has been to any of these high-risk premises at the specified dates and times will not be permitted to enter the state.”

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens flagged on Tuesday morning that his state would also reopen to metropolitan Melbourne on Friday, but travellers would need to isolate until they received a negative test result on day one.

He said Melburnians would also be banned from attending high risk locations, such as aged care homes and major events that require a Covid management plan.

Western Australia and Queensland still have

New South Wales travellers have had their holiday hopes dashed after New Zealand paused their travel bubble with the state.

NZ’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has paused quarantine free travel from NSW while the source of the infection of Sydney’s latest cases is investigated.

The reversed decision came after NSW recorded 10 new cases of COVID on Tuesday, taking the number in the Bondi cluster to 21.

“The pause will come into force from 11.59pm NZT(9.59pm AEST) and be in place for 72 hours initially,” Hipkins said in a statement.

“As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review.

“This decision follows a public health assessment today which determined that while the overall risk to public health in New Zealand currently remains low, there are still several unknowns, including a case that was infectious while in the Sydney community and a primary school age child with no clear link established at present.”

The decision will be reviewed again on Thursday.

NSW has been locked out of New Zealand.
NSW has been locked out of New Zealand. Credit: Getty

Earlier on Tuesday, the NZ government announced its intention to continue to the bubble.

That press release was issued at exactly the same time as NSW released details of the new cases.

The pause to quarantine-free travel with NSW also ends hopes of a fully operational bubble.

New Zealand paused travel from Victoria on May 25 in response to the latest communtiy cases in Melbourne.

While it allowed Kiwi travellers to return after they’d completed a fortnight in isolation, the Victorian bubble will come back online at precisely the same time the NSW bubble is shut down.

Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney, Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
Cars line up for Covid-19 testing at Bondi in Sydney, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Credit: JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

Earlier on Tuesday, officials also revealed 16 recent arrivals to New Zealand had visited locations of interest listed from the recent outbreak in NSW.

People who have visited locations of interest are not allowed to fly.

Should they learn of the location of interest after travelling, they are required to isolate at home until testing negative to COVID-19.

Of the recent 16 travellers, none have produced positive tests to date.

10 cases

Cases jumped by 10 on Tuesday in NSW- but only one of them was a mystery case.

A primary school age student that attends Saint Charles’ Primary School in Waverley was the only case with no known source.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAPIMAGE

The school is close to Westfield Bondi Junction, which is the major shopping centre that’s been exposed to the virus during this outbreak.

“We’re just concerned about the poor child and the family that’s going to be impacted and just hope that they’re safe and keep well,” one parent said.

“They’ve informed us what we need to do to get tested so we’ll do that in due course,” another parent added.

NSW has recorded 10 new local cases of COVID-19 lifting the number of infections linked to Sydney's Bondi cluster to 21. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
NSW has recorded 10 new local cases of COVID-19 lifting the number of infections

New Zealand’s quarantine-free travel bubble with NSW is being paused on the back of the state’s growing coronavirus outbreak.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in NSW stands at 21 after 10 new infections were recorded today.

The cases have predominantly been linked to Sydney’s eastern suburbs and they first emerged after a 60-year-old limousine driver tested positive to the virus on June 16. 

The latest outbreak is known as the Bondi cluster.

Among the new cases today, and of concern to both NSW and New Zealand health authorities, is a Sydney primary school student with no known links to people who have been diagnosed with the virus.

Investigation into how the year three student at St Charles’ Catholic Primary School in Waverley picked up the virus are ongoing.

NSW authorities are also trying to learn how a woman in her 20s who works at Bondi Junction was infected.

New Zealand said it was pausing the travel bubble arrangement while the source of the new cases was investigated.

The pause takes effect from midnight tonight and will be in place for 72 hours at this stage, but that will be reviewed.

New Zealand’s Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the country was taking precautionary steps following a public health assessment of NSW’s evolving situation.

Of particular concern is Westfield Bondi Junction mall, which NZ officials say is popular with Kiwi visitors.

“While the overall risk to public health in New Zealand currently remains low, there are still several unknowns, including a case that was infectious while in the Sydney community and a primary-school-age child with no clear link established at present,” Ms Hipkins said.

The case at St Charles’ Catholic Primary School prompted staff to notify parents to pick up their children. 

The school is not far from Westfield Bondi Junction where several people recently contracted COVID-19. 

NSW residents already in New Zealand who have recently visited Westfield Bondi Junction are urged to get tested and stay at home until they receive negative test result.

Anyone who was at a location of interest at the specified times as listed on the NSW Health website cannot travel to New Zealand within 14 days of the exposure event.

This is not the first time NSW residents have been temporarily prevented from travelling to New Zealand due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Flights were paused in May after cases emerged in Sydney. It came a month after the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand opened up. 

Authorities have reintroduced social distancing restrictions in Melbourne following the detection of a cluster of five Covid-19 cases in Australia’s second-largest city over the past 24 hours.

From 6pm on Tuesday everyone 12 years of age or older will have to wear masks when indoors and private gatherings at people’s homes will be limited to five visitors. 

Public gatherings are limited to 30 people under the new restrictions, which follow an outbreak that broke a 86-day run without an infection outside of hotel quarantine.

On Tuesday morning authorities in the state of Victoria said a man in his 60s returned a positive Covid-19 test, which brings to five the number of cases identified in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

South Australia has introduced border restrictions for people who attended any of the exposure sites listed by Victorian authorities.

The latest cluster of cases in Melbourne threatens to derail one of the world’s most successful efforts to suppress coronavirus, with just a few cases reported outside hotel quarantine in recent months. 

Commuters wear masks as they leave a tram in Melbourne on Tuesday
Commuters wear masks as they leave a tram in Melbourne on Tuesday © Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

“These cases are an important reminder that until the majority of Australians have been vaccinated, and as we move into winter, we cannot let any complacency creep in,” James Merlino, Victoria’s acting premier, said.

Last year, Melbourne imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns lasting 112 days to quash local transmission of the virus.

The outbreak comes as Australia’s vaccination campaign continues to lag behind the US and most EU countries, due to delays in obtaining vaccines and bureaucratic errors. 

Recent surveys have also highlighted vaccine hesitancy among the public, which experts say is linked to reports of blood clot complications regarding AstraZeneca’s vaccine and complacency due to the nation’s success in suppressing Covid-19.

Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, has written to doctors to reassure them of the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which the government has approved for people over the age of 50. People under 50 in Australia receive BioNTech/Pfizer jabs.

“It’s about protecting your own health, not sitting there waiting for an outbreak,” Kelly said. “The more we can get vaccinated now, the better situation we’ll be in.

New Zealand Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins looks on during a news conference at Parliament last month where he and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans for a quarantine-free “travel bubble” between New Zealand and Australia.

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New Zealand Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins looks on during a news conference at Parliament last month where he and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans for a quarantine-free “travel bubble” between New Zealand and Australia.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Less than three weeks after launching a quarantine-free “travel bubble” between New Zealand and Australia, officials in New Zealand’s capital Wellington announced Thursday that flights from Sydney would be temporarily suspended after new coronavirus cases were detected there.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that flights from the Australian state of New South Wales would be suspended for 48 hours from 11:59 pm Sydney time (9:59 a.m. ET) on Thursday.

Hipkins said the health officials needed more time to evaluate the situation in Australia “and obviously we’ll make decisions where we need to.”

“We do acknowledge this has the potential to disrupt people’s travel,” he said, adding that the pause would be extended if necessary. “This isn’t a decision we take lightly.”

He said travel from New Zealand to Australia would still be allowed.

The news comes exactly a month after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced plans to create what she has described as a “Trans-Tasman bubble” to allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries. It was officially launched on April 19.

New Zealand and Australia have done better than most developed countries in controlling the spread of COVID-19 – closing their borders early in the pandemic and taking other measures to prevent the disease from gaining a foothold in their populations.

Although Australia imposed a prolonged lockdown in Melbourne, it has been largely successful at keeping COVID-19 at bay. New Zealand, a country of 5 million people, has also faced occasional, small outbreaks.

An overseas traveler from the U.S. who was quarantined at a hotel in central Sydney last month was found to be infected with the B.1.617 coronavirus variant. Subsequently, an Australian couple with no known links to the man or the hotel also tested positive for the virus, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Hipkins on Thursday said that there didn’t appear to be any “obvious link” between the Australian cases. He characterized the pause in the travel bubble as precautionary and noted that the ability to turn on and turn off quarantine-free travel between the two countries had been built into the system when it was launched last month.

Australia
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

New Zealand on Friday paused its newly opened travel bubble with Australia, the government in Wellington said, after a COVID-19 outbreak in its larger neighbor.

“As set out in our Trans-Tasman bubble protocols, travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has been paused, pending further advice from the state government,” a statement on the New Zealand government website said.

The decision came after Western Australia announced that the regions of Perth and Peel were entering a three-day lockdown, starting midnight Friday to Saturday, due to a traveler testing positive for the coronavirus.

The decision to lock down followed “a positive COVID-19 case from hotel quarantine who was active in the community,” a statement on the Western Australia government website said.

Local media reported that a man in his 50s flew into Melbourne from Perth on Wednesday and tested positive for the coronavirus earlier Friday.

Heunderwent the legally-required quarantine in a Perth hotel and had gone to restaurants, a university, a public pool, a doctor’s office and a friend’s house before leaving the area.

“He spent up to five days in Perth, and we now need to assume he was infectious,” Western Australia premier Mark McGowan told a press conference.

New Zealand and Australia had opened their quarantine-free travel bubble on April 18.


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New Zealand pauses travel bubble after Australian COVID outbreak (2021, April 23)
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