Returnees from New South Wales (NSW) will have to spend 14 days in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) when they arrive in New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.
But returnees from NSW will not have to pay for MIQ, considering they went to Australia with the understanding a quarantine-free travel bubble was in place. The Government will put them in MIQ rooms set aside for contingency.
About 1000 rooms at MIQs over the next fortnight will be readied. Travellers can expect to receive more detailed guidance from their airlines over the next 24 hours. This will include how they can secure a seat on a flight home and a room in MIQ.
Hipkins said there will be no flights into New Zealand from NSW until Tuesday next week, while flights will resume from Queensland at midnight for those who present a negative COVID-19 test result and were not in any locations of interest. Indications are that the travel pause with Queensland will lift early next week.
The Government is strongly advising people not to fly to Sydney unless they normally live there and are returning home.
"We know there are Kiwis who've been on holiday, reconnecting with family or doing business wanting to get back," Hipkins said on Friday.
"However our public health officials - who are in daily contact with their NSW counterparts - have assessed that the risk to New Zealand from the state has continued to increase. That warrants an extra level of protection at the border for the time being."
The announcement will affect some 2500 New Zealanders currently in NSW, Hipkins said. The added restrictions, he added, is in response to the state's unfolding COVID-19 outbreak and concerns about rule-breaking.
COVID-19 is continuing to spread in NSW. The state reported 44 new cases on Friday, its highest daily number since the current outbreak began, prompting Premier Gladys Berejiklian to tighten lockdown restrictions.
It marks another jump from Thursday's record figure of 38 new cases. At the time, it was the highest daily number in NSW in more than a year.