The trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has been burst by two Covid-19 cases in Sydney, as fears grow there might be more positive tests to come.
As a result, authorities from New Zealand on Thursday confirmed they will pause quarantine-free travel from NSW from 11.59pm on Thursday night.
The travel pause will last for at least 48 hours.
NZ Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged the development would be frustrating for many who had international travel plans.
The trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has been burst by two Covid-19 cases in Sydney (stock image)
‘With several outstanding unknowns in the situation in Sydney it is safest to pause the QFT [quarantine-free travel agreement],’ he said.
‘This isn’t a decision we take lightly. But we indicated when we opened up the trans-Tasman travel bubble that we would continue to be cautious.’
Hipkins said anyone who has travelled to New Zealand from New South Wales over the past six days will be contacted by health authorities.
‘They will be asked, if they have been in one of the locations of interest, to isolate and to seek a test,’ he said.
The travel pause comes as Sydney scrambles to contain the number of Covid positive cases, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warning more locally acquired cases were likely to emerge as health authorities frantically hunt for a ‘missing link’ in the infection chain.
The two confirmed positive cases in NSW are a man in his 50s from Sydney’s east who tested positive on Wednesday.
One of his household contacts, his wife, also in her 50s, was confirmed on Thursday.
Authorities from New Zealand on Thursday also confirmed they will pause quarantine-free travel from NSW from 11.59pm on Thursday night – for at least 48 hours (stock image)
Chris Hipkins, the NZ Covid-19 Response Minister, said the travel pause will prevent a possible spread from NSW as health officials look to determine the source of infection (stock image)
NSW Health have now to traced the man’s infection using genomic testing to a returned traveller from the U.S. who contracted an Indian variant of the virus.
About a month ago he was taken from hotel quarantine to special health accommodation, but it remains a mystery how he came into contact with the man.
Following the two positive cases, Covid restrictions were re-introduced for three days in Greater Sydney, with the return of compulsory masks and visitors in homes limited to 20 people.
Drinkers in bars must also be seated and just two visitors will be allowed for residents in aged care homes.
The restrictions will remain in place until at least Monday morning but Ms Berejiklian reiterated businesses should remain open over the Mother’s Day weekend.
‘We know for sure that someone with the virus has been moving around the community and doesn’t know they have it… they may have infected many other people… so what we are doing is a precautionary response,’ she said on Thursday.
‘Unlike other premiers, we are not shutting down the city.’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) announced a host of new restrictions on Thursday in response to two Covid cases
Pictured: A map showing the venues visited by Sydney’s two Covid cases
In a bizarre twist, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is currently self isolating after he attended the same Sydney CBD restaurant as the coronavirus-positive man.
The treasurer has already taken a Covid test and returned a negative result, however he will still complete a self-isolation period of 14 days.
NRL players from the Sydney Roosters and the Sydney Swans AFL squad have also been sent for Covid tests.
Staff from both teams have been advised to stay home after the infected man visited Azure Cafe in Moore Park.
It is the second time the trans-Tasman travel bubble has been suspended between an Australian state and NZ since it came into affected on April 19.
Last week NZ took similar action against Western Australia after a Covid case breached the state’s quarantine system.
Flights between NZ and Western Australian have now resumed with no quarantine requirements.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a host of new restrictions for the Greater Sydney region, including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains, on Thursday including mandatory face masks for the weekend
NEW RESTRICTIONS FOR GREATER SYDNEY
- Visitors to households will be limited to 20 guests – including children;
- Masks will be compulsory on public transport and in all public indoor venues, such as retail, theatres, hospitals, aged care facilities and for front-of-house hospitality staff (except in a hospitality venue when eating or drinking);
- Drinking while standing up at indoor venues will not be allowed;
- Singing by audiences at indoor shows or by congregants at indoor places of worship will not be allowed;
- Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs however, dancing is allowed at weddings with a strong recommendation that no more than 20 people should be on the dancefloor at any one time; and
- Visitors to aged care facilities will be limited to two people.