Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Australian travel pause to lift on July 4

COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins has confirmed that the pause on Quarantine Free Travel from South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria will be lifted at 11.59pm (NZT) on Sunday 4 July.

Cabinet made the in-principle decision based on the most up to date information today, but this could change if the situation in Australia was to change, Mr Hipkins said.

“The health advice today is that at this point,  the spread of COVID-19 in those parts of Australia appears to have been contained. There is robust surveillance, testing and contact tracing to detect and manage cases, and adequate border controls are in place to prevent the spread of new cases,” he said.

“Officials will continue to review the situation between now and Sunday.

“Evidence of a negative pre-departure test will be required before travellers are able to fly to New Zealand, and travellers must not have been in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia on or after 10:30pm (NZT) on 26 June 2021. They must also not have been in New South Wales on or after 11:59pm (NZT) on 22 June.

“The pause with Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland will remain in place so that outstanding test results can be returned and to give New Zealand time to assess next steps. This will be reviewed again on Tuesday 6 July.

“As we said on Saturday when we announced the pause, we needed a few days to get a better understanding of the developing situation and the growing number of COVID-19 cases being reported across Australia.”

He said a risk assessment had been completed for each state and territory of Australia.

“New South Wales is currently seen as the most risk, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory are higher risk than we are comfortable with, and South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria are consistent with our green flights category.”

“Cabinet carefully weighed up the evidence this morning and we consider a partial lifting of the pause is a proportionate action, when bolstered with the introduction of a mandatory pre-departure test and other health measures.

“Today’s decision gives airlines, passengers and Government officials time to prepare for flights back from those states we consider low risk when the pause lifts.

“We know how important the bubble is, in particular for families and businesses. But we also want to avoid a situation where we are having to respond to a case here in New Zealand.

“Our system from here, of only opening up to states as and when they are able to contain COVID-19, will help New Zealand to stay at Alert Level 1.

“Travellers must have a test no more than 72 hours before their scheduled departure time, which means they have to have a sample taken and result returned within the three day time period.”

Passengers should also:

  • understand the current public health measures that are in place,
  • wear face coverings on the aircraft and at the airport,
  • make a health declaration,
  • know they are subject to random temperature checks.
  • know the importance of downloading the COVID tracer app, and
  • self-isolate and be tested immediately if they have any symptoms of illness.

“The Government will keep the pre-departure test requirement under review.”

Meanwhile, as Wellington prepares to return to Alert Level 1 tonight, people in the region are urged to remain vigilant and get tested if they are felling unwell or were at a location of interest.

“Cabinet has today agreed to shift the Wellington region to Alert Level 1 from 11:59pm tonight,” Mr Hipkins said.

“There have been no cases of COVID-19 detected in the community, nearly 2,500 negative results from contacts of the case (including repeat negative results from the case’s close contacts) and wastewater testing which continues to show no detection of the virus.  

“However it is paramount that we stay vigilant. Testing centres will remain open in Wellington Central, Porirua, Kāpiti Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.”

He said anyone who was at a location of interest or has any symptoms of COVID-19 including a cold or flu, aches or pains must stay at home, call Healthline or a GP and get a test.

“Wellington has been at Alert Level 2 out of an abundance of caution, given the large number of highly populated places the Australian traveller visited last  Monday while potentially infectious with the Delta variant of COVID-19,” Mr Hipkins said.

“The more tests we do and more results we receive, the more certain we can be there is no COVID-19 in Wellington.”

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