Covid-19: Travel bubble with Melbourne on hold as Victoria falls back into snapdown lock
The quarantine-free trip from Victoria to New Zealand will be paused on Friday from 1.59 a.m., Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has announced.
The break will last at least four days and will be reviewed on Monday, Hipkins said in a statement Thursday evening.
The announcement came just before it was confirmed that Victoria would initiate a five-day statewide lockdown. That decision came after two new Covid cases were registered on Thursday, bringing the state’s cluster to 16.
The travel bubble hiatus meant anyone in Victoria could not travel to New Zealand from any Australian state after 1:59 a.m. on Friday until further notice, Hipkins said.
* Trans-Tasman Bubble will reopen for select states, with pre-departure testing
* Covid-19 NZ: Air NZ cancels 28 flights to Australia to cluster in NSW
* Covid-19: Doctor stuck in Melbourne, 120 patients are waiting for him at home
* Covid-19: Melbourne’s travel bubble break has been extended and the self-isolation order, which affects around 5000 people, could affect the Australian Prime Minister’s planned trip to New Zealand
Anyone who had been to an interesting place in Melbourne couldn’t travel to New Zealand, Hipkins said. Those who were out on Thursday night must have had a negative test before leaving.
Anyone who has been to Melbourne in the past week and has since returned to New Zealand should monitor their health and be aware that the number of places of interest is increasing. You should do this regularly on the Victorian Public Health Website.
Air New Zealand announced that it would operate a Melbourne-Wellington flight and a Melbourne-Auckland flight on Thursday evening. His flights from Melbourne would then be canceled for the next four days.
A reduced number of passenger flights would continue to operate to Melbourne to ensure customers visiting New Zealand from Victoria can return home. Freight services would continue to operate, the airline said.
Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer, said affected customers who booked directly with Air New Zealand could change their booking online with no change fee or credit their ticket.
Hipkins previously warned Kiwis in Victoria to consider returning to New Zealand if they were concerned about the bubble.
Quarantine-free travel to New South Wales was on hold. There were still managed return flights from Sydney which had to place all travelers in managed isolation upon arrival.
No pre-departure test was required for these travelers.
Anyone who was in NSW at 10:30 p.m. on June 26 was not allowed to travel to New Zealand from any other part of Australia. The Ministry of Health warned that travel histories would be checked at the airport.
Travelers from other parts of Australia were required to present a negative test before departure and complete a travel declaration.
Michael Baker, Wellington professor of public health at the University of Otago, said the risk to New Zealanders from flights to Melbourne last week was “very low”.
While not perfect, the pre-departure tests were “useful” and added an extra layer of security, Baker said.
“It is a major outbreak, so we are preparing for the longer time,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.
“If any of these people have been interested in a place, they need to be isolated and tested depending on the circumstances.”
It relies on people to “do the right thing,” but hopefully no one has doubted the importance of it, he said.
Small outbreaks could be managed effectively if the source was identified âquicklyâ and affected individuals were isolated or quarantined.
Another blow to Queenstown
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said he wasn’t surprised by the break, but it was “another blow” to the region.
“We were excited when the bubble was announced in April … then New South Wales was locked and hotel bookings went through the ground.”
A hotel was occupied from 100 percent to just 35 percent in the first week of vacation, costing the operator about $ 100,000 a day, he said.
“Spread that across the region and it has a significant impact.”
Boult said many New Zealand travelers enjoyed the Queenstown school vacation, but companies looked forward to seeing Australian visitors too.
“We still hope that the Australians will be behind us by the school holidays in September and that there will hopefully still be good snow.”
Paul Anderson, CEO of NZSki, said the travel break was “disappointing,” but he also felt for those in the state facing a fifth lockdown.
The ski season got off to a good start with around 20 percent of customers from Australia, but it has now “fallen back”.
“It’s a challenge that we prepared for because we knew that travel breaks were possible.”
The past few months have been “a full emotional roller coaster ride,” he said.
“It’s one of the hardest things … when there’s so much uncertainty … [but] this is currently the reality of a company, especially in the tourism industry. “
There are still events to look forward to
Te Papa spokeswoman Kate Camp expected the border restriction to reduce visitor numbers to Wellington.
“Although they could come, we got some Australians through, especially for surrealist art, so border restrictions obviously have an impact,” she said.
“But like all of us, it’s all about rolling around with the visitors, and school holidays mean we’re nice and busy right now.”
Wellington NZ Tourism General Manager David Perks expected the local economy to take a hit.
“Australian visitors are good funders so this will have an economic impact, but we know that keeping our domestic tourism and business operations going is of the utmost importance.”
Several upcoming events – including Wellington On A Plate, Beervana and an All Blacks game against Australia – would have something to look forward to for local businesses, he said.
Cantabria “relieved” to make it home
Professional hula hooper Olivia Watts was on one of a handful of flights that landed in Christchurch from Melbourne on Thursday before the new lockdown was announced.
âMy flight was actually for [Friday]but then I saw the New Zealand government recommendation to return if you could.
“It cost about $ 600 to move my flights forward, [but] I had provided money for it just in case. “
Watts said Melbourne locals weren’t really concerned about the latest surge in cases until Wednesday.
“I’m really glad I came back when I did, I’m relieved to be home.”
Kate White from Christchurch, who was in Melbourne because of her sister’s long delayed wedding, was also relieved to be home.
âI think it was the perfect timing. The stakes were a little higher than the news came out in Melbourne, so I tended to do less in Melbourne as cases went up. “