Coronavirus: Travel bubble pause with New South Wales to be lifted on Sunday night

The travel bubble pause with New South Wales will be lifted on Sunday night, COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

That's subject to no further significant developments in NSW, which this week recorded two community cases of the virus. Flights were initially suspended on Thursday night. 

"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. It has been determined that the risk to public health in New Zealand remains low," Hipkins said on Saturday night.

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

"This is good news and aligns with the lifting of NSW restrictions at 12:01am on Monday May 10 2021.

"I am pleased with the way the response process has been managed this week. There has been close liaison between the health agencies, and this is reflected in the sound advice our respective Governments have received."

Anyone who is in Australia and was at a location of interest at times specified by NSW Health should follow local advice and must no travel to New Zealand within 14 days of being at the location. Anyone who has travelled to New Zealand already and has been at a location of interest should self-isolation and contact Healthline. 

Hipkins said New Zealand health officials have considered a range of factors, including whether any new cases had been identified, the results from COVID-19 testing of any contacts identified and from the wider Sydney community, and the results from waste-water surveillance testing.  

Following this risk assessment and a review of these factors, they have been reassured that at this stage the two community cases in Sydney are contained and that there is no evidence of widespread undetected community transmission. 

"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," Hipkins said.

"We acknowledge that this travel pause has caused disruption to travel plans. 

"New Zealand has consistently taken a precautionary approach to keeping COVID-19 out. The Government's overall public health strategy in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic is elimination. Border controlsare a key tool for stopping the introduction and spread of new cases from overseas and remain central to our elimination strategy."