Coronavirus: Quarantine-free travel pause from Queensland, New South Wales extended

The pause on quarantine-free travel from Queensland and New South Wales to New Zealand has been extended, the Ministry of Health says.

NSW extended its lockdown for a further week on Wednesday to help stop the spread of the virus. The state also recorded 27 new community cases. Over in Queensland, it announced one new community case.

New Zealand health officials met on Wednesday and determined there is still a need to get a better understanding of the developing situation and the number, and pattern, of cases being reported in these Australian states.

"A range of factors for each state were considered, including whether any new cases are identified, whether they were infectious in the community, and the results from COVID-19 testing of any contacts and from the wider community," the ministry says.

Health staff in New Zealand stay in close contact with Australian health authorities about the actions being taken in each state. The pause will be under constant review.

"We consider this pause to be prudent while investigations continue and until further test results are returned," the ministry adds.  

'Return green flights' will commence on Friday at 11:59pm from Queensland and NSW. Travel on these flights will be limited to New Zealand citizens, Australian citizens who normally reside in New Zealand, people with humanitarian exemptions, and critical workers who are stranded in Queensland or NSW.

Anyone on these flights will need to return a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test within 72 hours of leaving Australia. Travellers also must declare they haven't been in a location of interest in the past 14 days, aren't symptomatic, aren't a close contact, and aren't awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

After returning to New Zealand, travellers are asked to keep an eye out for any COVID-19 symptoms and to diligently use the NZ COVID Tracer app or another form of diary.

Anyone who does have COVID-19 symptoms is asked to stay at home, get tested, and remain isolated until they get a negative result.

"The increasing number of cases we are seeing in many parts of the world - including by our Australian neighbours - is a stark reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing," the Ministry of Health says.

"It reinforces we are taking the right approach with our precautionary actions to protect the public health of New Zealanders."