NZ suspends travel bubble with NSW over outbreak fears

·3-min read

New Zealand has announced it will suspend quarantine-free travel with one Australian state in light of new cases of community transmission.

The country announced on Thursday it would suspend flights to NSW for 48 hours after a Sydney man and his wife tested positive for Covid-19.

An aerial view of Queenstown.
New Zealand has suspended the quarantine-free travel bubble with NSW. Pictured is Queenstown. Source: Getty Images

"I have made the decision to pause flights from New South Wales for a period of 48 hours," NZ Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins said.

The pause will come into effect from 11.59pm Thursday and will be "under constant review".

"I do acknowledge that this is going to cause disruption for people who were travelling in the next 48 hours from New South Wales to New Zealand," he said. 

"This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but we indicated when we open up the trans-Tasman travel bubble, we will continue to be cautious, we are continuing to be cautious."

Anyone who has travelled to New Zealand from NSW over the last six days has been contacted and they will be asked if they have been to the potential exposure sites and asked to get tested.

A man in his 50s was confirmed to have tested positive on Wednesday — on Thursday, authorities confirmed his wife had tested positive.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed to reporters on Thursday the original source of the infection has been identified after health authorities were initially puzzled over how he had acquired the virus.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said genomic testing linked the latest cases with a returned traveller from the US at a Darling Harbour quarantine facility. 

However, there is a missing link between the traveller and the two cases, she revealed.

NSW introduces restrictions, states tighten borders

Restrictions are back in the Greater Sydney area from 5pm on Thursday, with masks compulsory at all public indoor venues and on public transport. Visitors in homes are capped at 20.

Singing or dancing indoors is banned, with an exception for weddings, where numbers on the dance floor will be limited to 20.

Drinkers in bars must be seated and just two visitors will be allowed for residents in aged care homes.

The NSW Premier was keen to emphasise the city remains open for business, particularly with Mother's Day coming up on Sunday.

NSW Has tightened restrictions amid the new cases. Source: AAP
NSW Has tightened restrictions amid the new cases. Source: AAP

"Unlike other premiers, we're not shutting down the city," she said.

"If you've got a booking (this weekend), go to the booking, enjoy Mother's Day, do what you would normally do."

She said other premiers should not close their borders to NSW. None have done so as yet.

Queensland and WA have both announced that they will send anyone who has visited an exposure site in Sydney into 14-day hotel quarantine from 1am on Friday.

With AAP

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