COVID-19: Government may extend managed flights for New Zealanders in Australia beyond seven days 'if required' - Jacinda Ardern

Managed return flights for New Zealanders in Australia may be extended beyond the original seven-day deadline, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Quarantine-free travel with Australia was suspended for two months last week as several states across the Tasman - namely New South Wales - battle COVID-19 outbreaks. 

NSW's outbreak continues to grow, with 141 community cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday and 163 on Saturday.

Announcing the travel suspension on Friday, the Government said managed return flights for New Zealanders would depart from all Australian states and territories for seven days - providing travellers had proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure. They wouldn't be required to enter a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility on arrival in New Zealand if they were flying from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, ACT and Norfolk Island.

However, Ardern told The AM Show that seven-day deadline could be extended "if required".

"There's nothing to suggest at the moment that it would be required - we've got enough capacity.

"We're meeting with the airlines today - if we find that demand is outstripping flights available then we would look to extend, just for a little bit, to bring [home] all those New Zealanders who need to get home.

"Our commitment is: we'll get everyone back because of course, beyond that, people would need to go into quarantine."

In announcing the pause on Friday, Ardern said it would be reviewed after the original two month period. Lifting it would depend on, in particular, whether the NSW COVID-19 outbreak had been contained, she said.

Any amendments to the pause would be made ensuring New Zealand's elimination strategy wasn't "at risk", Ardern added.

Meanwhile, there were no new community cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand on Sunday and two in MIQ.

The new cases brought the total number of active infections in New Zealand to 58.