Australia suspends travel bubble with NZ for 72 hours over Covid case

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 Jan 2021, 7:40PM
Australia's Health Minister said the decision was in response to NZ's new community case. Photo / File
Australia's Health Minister said the decision was in response to NZ's new community case. Photo / File

Australia suspends travel bubble with NZ for 72 hours over Covid case

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 Jan 2021, 7:40PM

Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced Australia will suspend its one-way travel bubble with New Zealand for at least 72 hours out of an "abundance of caution" following the discovery of the South African Covid-19 variant in the community.

The changes are coming into effect immediately.

Any passengers from New Zealand with a green card flight scheduled within the next 72 hours will need to rethink their need to travel.

Anyone who has arrived in Australia from New Zealand on or since January 14 is asked to isolate and get tested. They should isolate until they get a negative test result.

Hunt has apologised to anyone inconvenienced -- but he says this has been taken on the basis of strong, clear, immediate medical advice from health authorities.

"In brief, the Australian Government has received advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee of a significant case of concern in New Zealand regarding the South African variant," Hunt said.

There is a "possibility that that may lead to a transmission event," Hunt continued, "and out of an abundance of caution, the AHPPC has recommended to the government ... that there should be a suspension."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had informed her about the move. "I was advised late this afternoon of Australia's decision by the Prime Minister. I advised him that we have confidence in our systems and processes, but it is Australia's decision as to how they manage their borders."

Air New Zealand released a statement acknowledging the travel bubble suspension.

"Air New Zealand currently operates quarantine-free flights between Auckland and Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and transiting flights through Norfolk Island," the statement reads.

The travel bubble suspension "will impact 5 services over the next 72-hours including flight NZ149 To Brisbane this evening".

"Customers booked on these services are being contacted and the airline will reaccommodate customers once further advice has been received from the Australian Government.

"We understand this is disappointing news for customers and we thank them for their patience and understanding."