Covid 19 coronavirus: PM Jacinda Ardern on Australia travel bubble, stranded Kiwis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the transtasman bubble pause will be lifted for Western Australia and the Northern Territory from 11.59pm on July 9, but will remain in place for Queensland and New South Wales.

The pause for Queensland would be reassessed on Wednesday, but not for NSW, Ardern said at today’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Those travelling from WA and the NT would need to return negative Covid-19 tests 72 hours before departure and not be connected to any outbreaks.

Regarding New Zealanders trapped in Australia, Ardern said those in NSW and Queensland who ordinarily resided in New Zealand would be able to return from 11.59pm on July 9 subject to a range of conditions, including having returned negative Covid-19 tests and not having any connection to current outbreaks.

This recognised those people would have spent over 14 days in lockdown in Australia, she said.

Ardern said the message to Kiwis travelling to Australia had always been “flyer beware”.

It comes after a partial reopening of the transtasman quarantine-free travel bubble this morning for people in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT.

People from those states can travel here freely, with evidence of a negative pre-departure test within 72 hours of boarding.

Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT have recently had limited or no community cases of Covid-19.

However, NSW – Sydney in particular – is still recording high numbers of cases.

The state today recorded 35 new community cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases in Sydney’s outbreak to 312. Seven of those were infectious in the community.

The greater Sydney area is still under lockdown until midnight on Friday.

Pfizer vaccine delivery

Ardern said the Pfizer delivery today meant there were enough vaccines in stock to confidently plan for the next four weeks ahead.

This was New Zealand’s largest shipment to date, and the first of four this month totalling over 1 million doses.

Fiji outbreak

On Fiji’s Covid outbreak, where cases were rising and deaths increasing, Ardern said she had spoken to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama last week.

New Zealand had provided Fiji $40 million in aid, support in PPE and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Partial reopening the right move – Baker

Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told RNZ this morning he considered the partial reopening of the travel bubble safe enough, but said the Government must act quickly if cases emerge.

The Government had proven willing to move quickly and suspend travel if there is an outbreak, he said.

“The other measure, of course, is pre-travel negative Covid-19 tests, which just adds another layer of protection for New Zealand,” Baker said.

The Sydney case in Wellington was a very close shave, and showed the risks the bubble poses.

“If there’s any evidence of transmission in a state in Australia, we need a very low bar in terms of rapidly suspending travel from that jurisdiction.”

No NZ community cases, 7 in MIQ

Meanwhile, there were no community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, and seven cases in managed isolation.

The number of active cases in isolation is 32, with four previously reported cases now recovered.

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