NZ travel bubble reopens to Sydney

New Zealand has reopened its borders to NSW, after a short pause triggered by the emergence of two local cases in Sydney.

The bubble was put back in place from 11.59pm Sunday, with the first flights touching down on Monday morning.

Direct flights were halted from 11.59pm on May 6, putting mother’s day plans in jeopardy, but New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the risk to public health from the cases remained low.

“New Zealand health officials met today to conduct a further assessment of the public health risk from the recently identified COVID-19 community cases in Sydney,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

“It has been determined that the risk to public health in New Zealand remains low.

“Consequently, the Ministry of Health is advising airlines that flights can resume from 11:59pm tomorrow (Sunday 9 May) subject to there being no further significant developments.”

Quarantine-free travel is back on between NSW and New Zealand. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

However, travel across the Tasman is not on for those who have visited any of the exposure sites listed on the NSW Health website.

Instead they must isolate for 14 days from the day they were at the hot spot venue.

“Anyone who has arrived in New Zealand and who was at a location of interest at the specified time must self-isolate immediately and call Healthline for information on when they should be tested,” the NSW government said in a statement.

There have been no new local cases of COVID-19 in NSW Sydney since the man and his wife, both in their 50s, tested positive last week.

While genomic sequencing results have determined the man has the same strain as a returned US traveller, how he actually caught the virus remains unclear.

He visited several venues across Sydney while unknowingly infectious, sparking fears the virus may have spread into the community.

When making their decision to reopen the border, NZ health officials considered a range of factors, including whether any new cases had been identified and the results from wastewater surveillance testing.

The bubble was temporarily halted due to the NSW cases. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James GourleySource:News Corp Australia

There will be some additional public health measures required for people who are or have recently been in Sydney.

“Our officials remain in close contact with health officials in NSW and will continue to closely monitor the situation. Updates will be provided if there is any change to this latest advice,” Mr Hipkins said.

“We acknowledge that this travel pause has caused disruption to peoples travel plans.”

Last week NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian praised the man’s use of QR codes to accurately record his movements.

“This person did everything right, but it goes to show that we can't take a single thing for granted,” she told reporters.

“It goes to show we have to maintain our social distancing, have to make sure we have good hand hygiene, we need to get tested with the mildest of symptoms, and very importantly and significantly, we need to use QR codes.”

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