Monday, July 15, 2024

Growing NSW caseload grounds travel bubble

Rising case numbers in New South Wales (NSW) means flights back from the Australian state will not start from midnight tonight as intended, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

NSW recorded 44 new COVID-19 cases today – with 29 of them locally-transmitted.

“Case numbers in Sydney show no sign of plateauing and NSW has today ramped up restrictions again,” said Minister Hipkins.

“We have responded quickly and moved to act on new advice to hold off on managed return flights from the state for three more days,” he said.

“As a result, work is underway to stage flights from Tuesday, 13 July to Auckland and Christchurch airports only. 14 days in managed isolation at MIQ will be a temporary requirement for travellers from NSW from Tuesday.

“This was a difficult decision but we consider it is necessary given the heightened risk in NSW.

“We know there are Kiwis who’ve been on holiday, reconnecting with family or doing business wanting to get back.

“However our public health officials – who are in daily contact with their NSW counterparts – have assessed that the risk to New Zealand from the state has continued to increase. That warrants an extra level of protection at the border for the time being.”

He said people going into managed isolation at MIQ would be tested on Day 0, in line with usual protocol, which means they will not need to get a repeat pre-departure test. They will also not be invoiced for the stay.

“In the intervening period, about 1000 rooms at MIQs over the next fortnight will be readied and plans made to prioritise the first cohorts of retuning travellers. We kept rooms aside specifically for this purpose,” Mr Hipkins said.

“I want to reassure people that they will be able to return but we ask for patience.”

He said travellers could expect to receive more detailed guidance from their airlines over the next 24 hours.

“This will include how they can secure a seat on a flight home and a room in MIQ. Rooms will not be allocated through the usual MIAS system.”

Information will also be updated on the COVID-19 website.

“In the meantime, we are strongly advising people not to fly to Sydney unless they normally live there and are returning home.”

“The travel bubble pause with NSW remains in place.

“Managed return flights from Queensland will continue as planned from midnight tonight, and indications are that the pause with Queensland will lift early next week,” he said.

Queensland recorded no new cases in the last 24 hours to 8pm last night.

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