Victoria’s chief health officer has declared seven local government areas in New South Wales as red zones, effective from 1am on Wednesday.
The declaration came hours after New Zealand health authorities closed the trans-Tasman bubble with NSW for 72 hours.
NSW Health also issued a public health alert about two flights between Sydney and Wellington – Qantas’ QF163 on June 18 and Air New Zealand’s NZ247 on June 21 – being associated with confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Passengers on those flights are considered close contacts and must call NSW Health on 1800 943 553, be tested and isolate for 14 days, regardless of the test result.
Likewise, anyone who visited Totti’s Bondi (within the Royal Bondi) are also considered close contacts and must undertake the same steps.
Earlier on Tuesday, a further 10 cases were revealed in NSW, bringing the Bondi COVID-19 cluster to 21.
The new cases were enough for NZ to roll up the drawbridge, beginning a 72-hour pause with Australia’s biggest state that will prevent eastward travel from Wednesday to Friday.
In Melbourne, Professor Brett Sutton ruled on Tuesday night that Victorian residents who have been in a red zone can obtain a permit to re-enter the state but must quarantine at home for 14 days.
Non-Victorian residents cannot enter the state if they have been in a red zone.
Travellers who have passed through a red zone without stopping can apply for an entry permit.
⚠️PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT – FLIGHTS AND VENUES OF CONCERN⚠️
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 22, 2021
The seven declared regions are:
- City of Sydney
- Canada Bay
- Inner West
Wollongong has also been declared an orange zone.
Travellers who have been in orange zones can apply to enter Victoria, but must get tested and isolate until receiving a negative result.
The travel bubble pause is not unique.
New Zealand paused travel from Victoria on May 25 in response to the latest community cases in Melbourne.
It allowed Kiwi travellers to return after they’d completed a fortnight in isolation, but the Victorian bubble will come back online at precisely the same time the NSW bubble is shut down.
“While the overall risk to public health in New Zealand currently remains low, there are still several unknowns,” COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said.
“The government is taking a precautionary approach and will review the decision to pause again on Thursday.”
Mr Hipkins said a case that was infectious while in the Sydney community and a primary school-aged child without a link to the cluster influenced the decision.
The decision will trap Kiwi travellers to Sydney, given the government’s “flyer beware” model that travellers do so at their own risk.
Earlier on Tuesday, officials also revealed 16 recent arrivals to New Zealand had visited locations of interest listed from the recent outbreak in NSW.
People who have visited locations of interest are not allowed to fly.
Should they learn of the location of interest after travelling, they are required to isolate at home until testing negative to COVID-19.
Of the recent 16 travellers, none have produced positive tests to date.