The pause on quarantine-free travel from New South Wales to New Zealand will continue for a further 12 days, the country’s Covid-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, announced yesterday (Thursday).
There are now 48 infections linked to the latest outbreak in Sydney, according to figures (at the time of writing) from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. She warned at a press conference that this is the “scariest period” the state has faced during the pandemic.
New Zealand’s decision to extend the pause followed a further public health assessment in which officials considered a range of factors in NSW – including whether any new cases are identified, the results from testing of any contacts identified, and infection numbers from the wider Sydney community.
NZ authorities are maintaining a cautious approach
“The Government strongly believes a cautious approach is the best course of action while these investigations continue,” Hipkins said.
“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.”
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.
Travellers from Australia to be questioned on arrival
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, NZ authorities said.
All travellers to New Zealand must also complete a 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.
“This is probably … the most concerning times I have experienced during the pandemic because we’re dealing with a virus that is extremely contagious,” Berejiklian said during her press conference yesterday.
“We do expect more cases in the coming days, but we also please expect everybody to do the right thing,” she added.