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Melbourne trans-Tasman travel bubble pause extended by seven days

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 27 May 2021, 4:51PM

Melbourne trans-Tasman travel bubble pause extended by seven days

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 27 May 2021, 4:51PM

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins spoke to reporters in Wellington this afternoon with Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

The pause in quarantine-free travel between NZ and Victoria would be extended for a further seven days amid a new outbreak in the Australian state, Hipkins said.

The extension means the pause will be until at least 7.59pm on Friday 4 June. Hipkins said the extension was due to the growing number of cases, more exposure events and the high risk nature of some of these events.

Anybody who had been in one of the locations of interest in Victoria couldn't travel to NZ for at least 14 days after they had been at the location, Hipkins said.

Further restrictions, such as pre-departure testing, were being considered, he said.

Anyone who has travelled to NZ after being in the greater Melbourne area since the 20th was now required to be tested and isolate, Bloomfield said. That's in addition to those that travelled to NZ since the 11th of May.

The risk to New Zealand was still considered low, Bloomfield said, but a precautionary approach was appropriate.

Hipkins said everything would be done to make sure those impacted by today's legal notification would be notified.

He said the people concerned would be spread across the country and was satisfied that there was good testing capability avalible.

Acting Victoria Premier James Merlino said this afternoon the state would go into a "circuit-breaker" lockdown from midnight until Friday morning next week, with only five reasons to leave the house.

The number of cases had grown to 34, with 150 exposure sites across the city and "over 10,000" contacts identified so far - a number expected to only increase.

Health officials on this side of the Tasman are now expected to extend the pause with the NZ-Victoria travel bubble, which was initially suspended for 72 hours from Tuesday evening.

A Government announcement is expected before 4.30pm, with Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins fronting a press stand-up shortly after.

Hipkins has previously said the pause would be under constant review.

The Ministry of Health said its officials were in close contact with counterparts in Victoria following the state's seven-day lockdown announced today.

It was "crucial" that any Kiwi travellers in Victoria since May 11 were checking Victoria Health's locations of interest.

Under the lockdown those in Victoria will only be allowed to leave their homes for five reasons, including to get food and supplies, authorised work, care and caregiving for medical reasons, exercise for up to two hours each day with one other person, and getting vaccinated.

It is the fourth time the state has been placed in a lockdown.

Because the first case in the Melbourne cluster was identified just over two weeks ago - on May 11 - it is possible that people from the Whittlesea local government area in Melbourne may have been exposed to the virus and are now in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health said.

"The ministry is asking anyone who has been in that area to have a test five days after they were last in Whittlesea and stay in their accommodation until they have a negative test result - even if they do no have symptoms."

Anyone from the wider Melbourne region who develops symptoms while in New Zealand is also urged to take action immediately by calling Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and arrange to get a Covid test.

The locations of interest connected to the Melbourne cluster are regularly updated on Victoria's dedicated Covid website.

Meanwhile New Zealand continues to record no cases of Covid-19 in the community.

Yesterday, no positive cases were detected at the border either - with the Ministry of Health reporting no new cases at any of the managed isolation facilities around the country.

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