State backflips on NZ 'travel bubble'

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

South Australia will from midnight allow travellers from New Zealand to enter without having to quarantine for 14 days, after a travel bubble mix up.

People travelling from New Zealand will be allowed to come to South Australia with no need to quarantine under revised COVID-19 measures.

The state's transition committee on Tuesday decided to clear the way for direct flights from New Zealand and for passengers to also transit through Sydney before arriving in Adelaide.

The change came after 12 people, who had arrived from NZ over the past three days under the travel bubble arrangements with NSW and the Northern Territory, had touched down in SA and were placed in hotel quarantine.

Photo shows and aeroplane taking on passengers.
Travellers from New Zealand will be allowed into South Australia from tomorrow without having to quarantine. Source: AAP

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said after discussions between South Australian and New Zealand health officials, local authorities now had a level of comfort about the risk posed by those coming to SA.

The new policy will allow for those already in hotel isolation to be released immediately.

Mr Stevens said it was unfortunate those people had been inconvenienced.

"But we don't apologise for taking steps to ensure the safety of the South Australian community," he said.

"These people have been inconvenienced for a relatively short period of time while we made a proper assessment of the level of risk.

"They should be very happy that we are able to release them from that quarantine period."

Mr Stevens said there had been no political pressure to change the state's stance on NZ travellers with local officials following a process based on evidence.

He said it was also pleasing now that other people from New Zealand would be able to come directly to SA.

Photo shows people inside an airport.
The change will see a dozen Kiwis being held in South Australian hotel quarantine immediately released. Source: AAP

In other changes announced on Tuesday, restrictions on communities close to the Victorian border were also eased.

People within the 70 kilometre buffer zone each side of the border will no longer be required to provide a legitimate reason for crossing the state line, allowing them to move about more freely.

But Mr Stevens said SA was still struggling with the notion of separating restrictions on people coming from other regional areas of Victoria with those on people from Melbourne.

"We'd like to be able to accommodate regional Victoria, but there are risks associated with that," he said.

Relocators needn’t provide medical exemption

However, people will be able to permanently relocate from Victoria to SA more easily with no longer any requirement to seek a special health exemption.

They will only be asked to provide details of employment and permanent accommodation and will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

And high school and university students will be allowed to return to SA from Victoria at the end of the current terms.

Mr Stevens said the transition committee had some discussion on easing restrictions on local hospitality venues but no changes were made.

SA reported no new cases on Tuesday leaving the state's total since the start of the pandemic at 484.

Of those, only eight are still considered active infections.

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