Australia has resumed its one-way quarantine-free travel arrangements with New Zealand.
Australia’s acting chief medical officer Professor Michael Kidd announced in a press conference today that a suspension of green-zone flights actioned on January 25 and extended on January 28 into Australia was lifted.
“Green zone flights from New Zealand into Australia are now judged to be sufficiently low risk given New Zealand’s strong public health response to Covid-19,” he said.
Sky News reported that arrangement would commence at 2pm Australia time today after the pause was not extended.
However, Kidd also announced he’d recommended new measures for people wanting a seat on a green safe zone flight from New Zealand to Australia.
Currently, travellers are required to have spent at least 14 days in New Zealand before becoming eligible for the quarantine-free flights.
Kidd said he has proposed time spent in managed isolation and quarantine in New Zealand would to not count as part of the two weeks, and travellers should be required to spend at least another 14 days this side of the Tasman once completing MIQ.
Kidd said as there was a “small risk” of further associated cases being detected in New Zealand he’s recommended to the Australian Government that pre- and post screening is implemented for all safe travel zone flights from New Zealand for the next 10 days.
That would include screening travellers for possible symptoms of Covid-19, checking travellers have not been identified as close contacts of the infected New Zealand community cases or have visited the relevant locations of interest.
“The HPPC (Health Protection Principal Committee) will continue to monitor the situation in New Zealand very closely.”
Flights have been poised for take-off from Auckland Airport to Australia this afternoon, including Air New Zealand flight 113 to Sydney, with the airline surely breathing a sigh of relief following this afternoon’s announcement.
On January 25, Australian health authorities suspended the one-way travel arrangement with New Zealand for 72 hours out of an “abundance of caution” following the discovery of the South African Covid-19 variant in the community case.
Kidd announced on January 28 that the green card flight suspension was extended for another 72 hours following revelations that two more people who recently completed managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel tested positive for Covid-19.
At the time, he said the move would allow the “continuing protection of the people of Australia while the extent of the situation in New Zealand is clarified”.
Yesterday, Kidd said the Government had delayed the decision on ending the New Zealand travel suspension.
“The authorities in New Zealand are continuing to do an excellent job, following up the contacts of the three people who are diagnosed with a South African variant of Covid-19,” Kidd said on Saturday.
“There are still test results outstanding on a number of people who may have been at risk, so we will be meeting again tomorrow morning with our New Zealand colleagues.
“We will then provide advice to the Australian Government.”
The news of the lifted suspension comes as New Zealand’s Ministry of Health reported one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation on Sunday and the fourth day in a row of no new community cases.
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