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Trans-Tasman bubble returns for Queenslanders


New Zealand will welcome Queensland back into the trans-Tasman bubble, leaving crisis state NSW the only outlier.

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While there is no timeline to return NSW to the quarantine-free travel arrangement, Jacinda Ardern’s government is from Tuesday allowing travellers from the sunshine state to visit without a fortnight spent in isolation.

“The health risk from Queensland is now low,” Ardern said on Monday.

“Quarantine-free travel from Queensland to New Zealand can resume from 11.59pm tonight.”

NZ ordered a whole-of-Australia border closure a fortnight ago following the discovery of COVID-19 at a Northern Territory mine site with fly-in fly-out workers across the country.

Queensland’s return to the fold means all Australian states and territories – except for NSW – have resumed regular trans-Tasman border settings.

The growing outbreak has left thousands of Kiwis trapped in NSW after they travelled to Sydney before to the border closure.

NZ is allowing citizens to come home if they agree to spend a fortnight in hotel quarantine.

“So that’s an indication that we think that there is a significant road to travel (before NSW is back in the bubble),” Ardern said.

“I wouldn’t want to at this stage, put a date on when we would likely see a pause lift.”

Response to the mercy flights home has been huge. Nine Air New Zealand flights from Sydney sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale on Monday morning.

“We would love to be able to bring more Kiwis home to their families, but we’re limited by the availability of (quarantine) spots,” Air New Zealand executive Leanne Geraghty said.

“Our teams have worked tirelessly with the government over the weekend to get these managed return flights up and running so we can reconnect Kiwis with their loved ones.

“We recognise this is a very stressful and emotional time for those customers wishing to return from NSW, and we’re doing everything we can to get them home as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Ardern’s government has also mandated pre-departure testing for all travellers from Australia as an additional safety measure to prevent an outbreak in Aotearoa.

NZ has not recorded any community transmission since February.

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