Quarantine-free flights back as NZ travel bubble reinstated
The quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has been reinstated after Auckland's hot-spot status was removed.
More than 1.7 million Kiwis emerged from a strict week-long lockdown in the nation's biggest city on Sunday as health authorities rushed to contain a COVID cluster that broke out at an Auckland high school.
Later a case of the highly contagious UK variant was detected.
Updated advice received on Tuesday from New Zealand officials suggested the hot-spot status be lifted and "green flights" should resume from 11.59pm on March 11.
Australia's chief medical officer Paul Kelly has been monitoring the situation and said it had "improved greatly", with "minimal risk" remaining from the Auckland cluster.
A statement from the Department of Health and Professor Kelly outlined that states or territories were welcome to introduce their own conditions that might differ to the national advice.
"All travellers are advised to check the arrangements in both their place of arrival and place of final destination before they travel," Professor Kelly said in the statement.
Australian health authorities applauded New Zealand's contact tracing efforts.
"New Zealand's contact tracing efforts showed the recent case identified, unrelated to the Auckland cluster, posed a low risk of COVID-19 spreading in Australia," Professor Kelly said.
"The Australian government will continue to work closely with colleagues in the New Zealand Ministry of Health to monitor and assess the public health risk posed by COVID-19."
Australian residents are still not allowed to fly to New Zealand under the current international travel ban, and any Kiwis who do travel to Australia will also have to complete 14 days quarantine on return.
The Prime Minister's office has been contacted for comment.
Australia started taking green flights earlier in the year. They were halted when cases of the South African variant were detected in hotel quarantine in Auckland.
They were reinstated at the beginning of February, just a couple of weeks before the high school cluster in Auckland become known.
The bubble was swiftly halted again.
Three Air New Zealand flights are scheduled to touch down in Sydney on Thursday hours before the bubble ban is lifted.
There are no flights scheduled to arrive on Friday at this stage.
Originally published as Quarantine-free flights back as NZ travel bubble reinstated