GAY global news

Covid-19: Australia reviewing quarantine-free travel suspension on Saturday after 'tremendous' testing blitz

The Australian Government will be reviewing its suspension of the one-way travel bubble with New Zealand on Saturday, with hopes of reopening the border as soon as possible.

“The news is good,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a Covid-19 update on Friday. “If things continue as they are, we hope to have good news before the end of the weekend.”

Hunt said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) will be reviewing the travel pause on a 24-hour basis, beginning Saturday.

“They will be considering tomorrow, and if there are continued excellent results out of New Zealand, which is commensurate with their entire performance over the course of the pandemic, then we hope to be in a position to resume that in the coming days.

* Crucial 24-48 hours ahead for Auckland anniversary and Waitangi long weekends
* Covid-19: Flights cancelled as Australia extends pause on NZ services for another 72 hours
* Covid-19: Jacinda Ardern says country-to-country bubble with Australia looks increasingly difficult

“I think that should give hope to everybody who is looking at friends or family arriving from New Zealand.”

Hunt said the lack of community cases stemming from the Northland case and two additional cases is good news for the travel arrangement, and based on advice from Australia’s acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd, widespread testing is aiding the decision to review the suspension.

“[New Zealand is] doing a tremendous job, a tremendous job in terms of widespread testing of staff relating to the hotel quarantine facility, guests, contacts and community.”

Australia will be reviewing its pause on the green travel zone with New Zealand on a daily basis.

Dean Lewins/AAP

Australia will be reviewing its pause on the green travel zone with New Zealand on a daily basis.

Testing rates surged throughout the week, with almost 2 per cent of the Northland population seeking a Covid-19 test. Almost half of the 3926 people tested were swabbed on Monday.

“[Kidd’s] advice is that after talking with New Zealand health authorities, there have been no further community cases,” Hunt said.

The Government made the decision to close its borders to New Zealanders on Monday after the detection of the community case. The suspension of green flights was extended on Thursday for an additional 72 hours.

Quarantine-free flights are suspended until at least 4pm January 31. A number of flights were cancelled throughout the week due to the pause.

Since several states in Australia opened their borders to New Zealanders without the need to quarantine in October, over 16,500 people have travelled across the ditch.

Hunt said the thousands of arrivals include Australians, New Zealanders and other nationals coming from New Zealand.

The health minister said they will recommence the green travel programme at the earliest possible time.

Works is also continuing for the two-way trans-Tasman bubble. The group tasked with forming the bubble believes an arrangement could be in place in eight weeks.