Following the detection of two COVID-19 cases in Sydney last Thursday, New Zealand decided to temporarily suspend quarantine-free travel.
Since there have been no new Covid-19 cases reported in Sydney in the last three days, New Zealand has reinstated the COVID-19 travel bubble with New South Wales as of yesterday.
Flights from Sydney landed in New Zealand from 9:59pm (local time) on Sunday, as no new community cases were detected.
The catch remains that New Zealand authorities will not allow anyone to enter the country who has been at any of the exposure sites, at the specified times announced by NSW Health, within the previous 14 days.
“Airlines and border officials will be asking people to declare whether they have been at one of the locations of interest,” a New Zealand government statement said.
“If you have, you will not be able to travel from NSW, or any border in Australia, to New Zealand.”
The decision to halt the travel bubble with Australia’s most populous state was made due to “several outstanding unknowns,” according to New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We weighed this up very carefully. It’s a balanced decision,” he said on Thursday.
“We do acknowledge that there’s the potential to disrupt people’s travel.”
Restrictions like compulsory masks on public transport and no more than 20 guests allowed in a home across Greater Sydney were eased this morning.
This week Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment fanned the flames of any hopes for near term travel overseas. In an interview with Sky News, the minister offered a “best guess” approach for reopening travel coming in late 2022.
Mr Tehan said, “The best guess would be in the middle to the second half of next year, but as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic thing can change,” Mr Tehan may not be aware that there are a group of lawyers who are challenging the border closure in the federal court as the “International travel ban denies Australians fundamental rights.”
We all appreciate the effort of the government to keep Australia as safe as possible however, our rights should be respected and rather than keeping our doors closed, the government should work on a plan for a safe re-opening of the borders ensuring people’s rights to move freely.
Quarantine-free travel to New Zealand from Australia was introduced on 19 of April, following the relative success of both countries containing COVID-19.