The pause on quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Victoria has been extended until June 10, and the government has set out a timeline for New Zealanders stuck in Melbourne to return home.
COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said that some ‘green zone’ flights would still be allowed to go ahead, meaning those on board can come to New Zealand without self-isolating or having to go into managed quarantine.
The decision has come following 65 cases recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, with four new cases being announced last Friday.
Hipkins said those returning on ‘green zone’ flights would be low risk, as they would have already done 14 days in isolation.
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“They will have done the 14 days of isolation by that point and that isolation period will have been while they were in Melbourne, and the extra precaution of them having to have a test before they come back again just adds that extra layer of certainty for us that they are not bringing COVID-19 to New Zealand,” Hipkins said.
Kevin Blyth, CEO of travel insurer Allianz Partners, said there was still some apprehension from travellers around being potentially stuck overseas - however, he said the fact that the Trans-Tasman bubble has been open for several months with several outbreaks managed through short pauses is encouraging.
“There is still a sense of cautiousness from travellers,” Blyth said.
“If someone were to go overseas to Australia for business, then you’d assume that they would probably be OK to work from there if they did get stuck. However, I think most people do want to get back to their families, so there’s definitely still a degree of apprehension around what happens when outbreaks do inevitably occur.”
“So far, we’ve seen the governments of both Australia and New Zealand behaving really well in response to these outbreaks, and they’ve both gone for brief pauses rather than scrapping the whole bubble altogether,” he said.
“I think that’s definitely a positive for us to read into, but it’s still fairly early days.”
Allianz Partners currently offers travel policies covering the contraction of pandemic diseases to both corporate and retail customers, and Blyth said that they are hoping to add as much confidence as they can to those who want to travel.
“We launched our Corporate Premier policy which covers pandemic and epidemic diseases back in May, and that really aimed to let corporate travellers behave in the same way as our retail travellers would,” he said.
“It will cover them for if they need to be treated or repatriated as a result of contracting a pandemic or epidemic disease, and that includes COVID-19.
“I would expect there to be more travel when people realise that Australia and New Zealand aren’t going to go for large-scale unilateral lockdowns, so we’re trying to create as much confidence for the market as we can.”