Following the Victorian Government’s decision to extend their lockdown restrictions, New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel pause with Victoria will also be extended for a further six days, with a further review due on Wednesday 9 June, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.
I acknowledge this extension will cause further inconvenience to those who have already had their travel plans disrupted.
I also acknowledge that having been prevented from returning for almost two weeks, New Zealanders will be wanting some certainty around when they can start to plan to come home.
The Government has announced plans for the carefully managed commencement of return ‘green flights’ from Melbourne to New Zealand, from Tuesday 8 June at 11:59pm.
Travel on such flights will be limited to New Zealand citizens, Australian citizens normally resident in New Zealand, people with humanitarian exemptions and critical workers who are stranded in Victoria.
Officials are continuing to work on details of how seats will be allocated if demand for these flights exceeds supply. These details will be provided on the COVID-19 website in coming days.
Anyone boarding these flights will need to have a negative pre-departure test taken less than 72 hours before departure.
The Nau Mai Rā contact information and health declaration must also be completed before departure to confirm travellers have not been at a location of interest.
New Zealand health officials have conducted an assessment of the public health risk and have determined that by 9 June, the risk to public health of people returning from Melbourne will be low.
The commencement of flights recognises that by then, people currently in Victoria will have completed 14 days in lockdown. This reflects the equivalent time which might have been spent in managed isolation in New Zealand.
Today’s advice from New Zealand public health officials has been that the travel pause should continue. While the source of the outbreak is known and the majority of the cases are linked, there remain some where the epidemiological link is yet to be established. Extensive contact tracing and testing continues, and no cases outside of Victoria have been found.
Other states and territories in Australia have imposed restrictions and requirements on travellers from Victoria ranging from excluding travellers who have visited the locations of interest to prohibiting entry of anyone in the State of Victoria.
New Zealand officials have assessed the current risk as medium for Melbourne but decreasing for the greater Melbourne area.
Additional information for travellers elsewhere in Australia is:
Anyone who was in Victoria between 20 – 25 May but is now in another Australian state can fly to New Zealand but will need to get a negative pre-departure test taken 72 hours before departure
This includes people from Victoria, located outside the Greater Melbourne lockdown area. To get on a QFT flight they will need to travel to another state and take a pre-departure test less than 72 hours before departure.
Anyone who is currently in any part of Australia but has been to any of the locations of interest in Victoria or New South Wales at the times specified CANNOT travel to New Zealand within 14 days from when they were at the location.
People who have been at a location of interest at the times specified are asked to continue following health advice from Victoria and New South Wales regarding isolation and testing.
Airlines will be asking travellers to declare whether they have been at one of the locations of interest, and travellers that have been to locations of interest will not be permitted to board the aircraft, from any border in Australia
Monitoring of the Victorian cases by New Zealand public health officials will continue.
Anyone in New Zealand who visited a location of interest area at the specified time is unable to travel and remains covered by a Section 70 notice has been issued under the Health Act. More information is available on the Ministry of Health website here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-response-planning/covid-19-epidemic-notice-and-orders