A traveller at Sydney Airport on April 19, 2021. Photo / AP
Quarantine-free travel from South Australia to New Zealand will be paused from midnight.
However, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said people currently in the state who ordinarily live in New Zealand will be able to return on “managed return” flights starting with the next available flight, and are encouraged to do so.
A negative pre-departure test taken within 72 hours of flying will be required for eligible passengers. They will also need to complete a health declaration confirming they have not been at a location of interest and the Nau Mai Rā travel declaration.
A stay in MIQ will not be required.
“The decision is based on public health advice from New Zealand officials and follows South Australia’s announcement this afternoon that it would go into lockdown for seven days from 6pm tonight,” Hipkins said.
Hipkins said the pause will run for seven days, to 27 July, to coincide with the timing of the lockdown. It will be reviewed on that day.
“We acknowledge this will be disruptive for travellers and organisations.
“However, given the current uncertainty and our consistently cautious approach to prevent COVID-19 from entering the New Zealand community, we are confident it is the right approach.
“The pause means people cannot travel to New Zealand from South Australia after 6pm tonight for the duration of the pause unless they are normally resident here and wish to return.
“We encourage people in this category to consider the option that is available to them over the next seven days.”
The Ministry of Health last night extended its pause on quarantine-free travel with Victoria for two days. The travel bubble freeze would be reviewed again on July 21.
The decision to continue the pause with Victoria was a “precautionary but necessary measure” while investigations continue, the ministry said.
NZ health authorities have also put quarantine-free travel from New South Wales on ice, with the arrangement paused since June 22. The pause would be reviewed again on July 21, the ministry said last night.
Quarantine-free travel remained in place with Queensland, as health authorities considered the situation there posed a low public health risk to New Zealand.
However, the ministry said the situation was subject to no further significant developments.
Anyone who has been in Queensland since June 28 should check the Queensland Health website for locations of interest.
The travel bubble update comes after another day of grim Covid news for Australia.
Three of the country’s six states are now in lockdown after outbreaks of the Delta variant – which means about 13 million Australians are only able to leave their homes for essential reasons.
Victoria extended its lockdown today, while South Australia announced it would go into a week-long lockdown from 6pm (local time) tonight. Meanwhile, there’s no end in sight for NSW, which today reported 78 new community Covid-19 cases.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the nine new locally acquired cases announced today showed Victoria was “running alongside” the virus.
“We need to get in front of us and we need more time to do that,” Andrews said, confirming that lockdown measures would be extended until at least midnight on July 27.
“We know and understand the pain. But I draw everyone back to the key point here. This is a matter of days, the alternative is months. We don’t want that.
“We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we know how hard it is. Sydney is going through that at the moment and we send our best wishes and spar to them.”
New South Wales
NSW today recorded 78 new locally acquired Covid-19 cases. The source of infection for 29 of these cases is under investigation, and at least 21 were infectious in the community.
Earlier today, the head of Australia’s top medical body warned that Sydney could be facing an “indefinite” lockdown – with only one clear pathway out.
President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr Omar Khorshid, said the city was looking at living with restrictions for the “foreseeable future until everyone is vaccinated”, urging Sydneysiders to obey health orders.
“Of course, we don’t have enough vaccines to vaccinate the whole of Sydney communities so the only option is to get on top of this virus right now,” Khorshid said.
Adviser to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 response and UNSW epidemiologist, Mary-Louise McLaws, had a similarly grim warning about the length of Sydney’s lockdown – currently pegged to end next Friday, July 30.
“We still need another three to four weeks because we need to get that proportion [of cases in people who haven’t been in full lockdown] to zero,” Professor McLaws told The Project last night.
“Once we’ve got that zero, then we need that to continue for 14 days to ensure we’ve mitigated everything.
“Now, you could lift some small restrictions off, but you wouldn’t be able to lift all of them off until 28 days after that first zero of anybody out in the community that hadn’t been in full lockdown.”
Sydney’s latest lockdown began on June 25.
South Australia will enter a snap seven-day lockdown from 6pm this evening, as the state’s Covid-19 cluster continues to grow.
The move comes after a fifth person was linked to the growing cluster – a diner at the Greek on Halifax, which has been named as a “potential super-spreader” exposure site.
The lockdown is statewide and involves schools and the construction industry. Teachers will have Wednesday to prepare before home schooling begins on Thursday.
Queensland recorded one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 today, unrelated to any existing outbreaks.
Acting Premier Steven Miles said the woman, aged in her 20s, had been infectious in the community with the Delta variant for about three days after returning home from Melbourne.
Queensland has Covid restrictions in place for Brisbane and other regions in the south-east. These include mandatory face mask use in public, gathering restrictions, and visitor restrictions for hospitals, aged care and disability accommodation services.