New Zealanders might have to make do with a gradual two-way flow across the Tasman as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warns a country-to-country bubble is looking increasingly tough.
“It does look increasingly difficult at a country-by-country level,” Ardern said of a planned trans-Tasman bubble, which would allow those in either country to skip the quarantine required of other travellers.
She said the government still aimed to create a two-way travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of the year however.
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The update came after Australia’s temporary popping of the existing one-way Trans-Tasman travel bubble over the Covid-19 case in Northland, which had allowed Kiwis to go to Australia without spending time in a managed isolation hotel.
Ardern said she had expressed “disappointment” to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the 72-hour suspension of one-way travel across the Tasman.
The decision was up to the Australian Government but had shared her view with it that the situation in New Zealand was “well under control”, she said.
Australia closed a “green zone”, or quarantine-free travel corridor to travellers across the ditch on Monday night, after a Northland woman tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.
Previously Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Australia’s 72-hour suspension of a one-way travel bubble with New Zealand is a “cautionary message” to international travellers.
Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters at a press conference on Monday that Australia would immediately suspend its green zone travel arrangements with New Zealand.
Anyone arriving in the country from New Zealand on or since January 14 has been asked to get a Covid-19 test and to enter mandatory hotel quarantine for up to 14 days on arrival.
The Northland woman was the first community case in New Zealand since November 18.
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday morning said 14 of the close contacts of the Northland woman had tested negative.
The results of three more close contacts were still pending.
On Monday, two close contacts of the woman – her husband and hairdresser – returned negative tests.