COVID-19 Response Update - Suspension of QFT travel with Australia

July 23, 2021

Key things to note:

  • Quarantine-free travel from Australia is being suspended.
  • There will be a window for people currently in Australia (except NSW) who ordinarily live in New Zealand to return on green flights from tonight for a 7 days  (until Friday 30). We will work closely with airlines to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary. 
  • Returnees will not need to go into managed isolation (expect those from New South Wales). 
  • In New South Wales managed return flights are continuing and travellers will enter managed isolation.
  • After this time, eligible travellers in Australia will need to go into an MIQ facility for 14 days if they want to return to New Zealand.
  • The suspension will be reviewed in September.

Why is this happening

New Zealand already has pauses in place with Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, covering approximately half of Australia’s entire population.

The Delta variant has changed the COVID-19 risk profile. Contact tracing alone is unable to get ahead of this variant, restrictions are absolutely necessary to stamp it out. The high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters and three states in lockdown in Australia, mean the public health advice is that suspending travel is the right thing to do to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand.

Modelling suggests cases in New South Wales are on a trajectory to continue to increase for some time and there is transmission across state borders. The suspension will give Australia time to manage their current outbreaks, while giving New Zealand health officials the time to monitor the situation, assess travel developments in other countries and consider different QFT settings while ensuring New Zealanders are safe.

What people in Australia can/should do

Act quickly, and organise coming home as soon as possible. Book a return green flight home, or secure a managed return flight from NSW.

For advice on returning from Australia, you can:

If you are unable to return in the next 7 days you should:

  • Subscribe to get email notifications about travel with Australia through the Unite website. You will receive emails when information changes. You can subscribe here
  • In an emergency, New Zealand citizens in Australia can get emergency consular assistance. You can access support for situations like lost or stolen passports, death, health issues and law infringements. Consular assistance cannot help you book a commercial flight, or guarantee an airline's travel requirements. Get emergency consular help by calling: +64 99 20 20 20 if you’re outside New Zealand.

How people in NZ will be kept safe

The NZ Government is deploying staff to Australian airports to check that all travellers to New Zealand have the correct documentation – including a negative pre-departure test. This means every traveller will be stopped and checked before they can fly.

Anyone flying over the next seven days will also;

  • be required to fill in a Nau Mai Ra declaration for contact tracing purposes,
  • get a negative pre-departure test within 72 hours of travelling
  • confirmed in their health declaration that they have not visited a location of interest, are not symptomatic and are not a close contact of a positive case.

Those flying from Victoria must also;

  • follow the lockdown rules in Victoria and all local health advice.
  • self-isolate immediately after they return to New Zealand (they can travel to get home).
  • continue to isolate for at least 3 days and get a COVID-19 test at day 3.
  • isolate until they have a negative result.

The Ministry of Health will contact them on day 1 and day 3 to check health and wellbeing and to make sure they have had a day 3 test.

Those in NSW can only return on ‘managed return flights’ and will enter MIQ.  

To lift the suspension, the government will need to be certain there is a significant reduction in community transmission.

People should not travel from NZ to Australia during suspension.

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