New Zealand has announced the trans-Tasman bubble to WA will be restarted midday on Wednesday after Perth’s lockdown ended.
However, all Kiwis who attended the same locations as the COVID-infected case will have to test negative and self-isolate for five days before being allowed to travel.
Quarantine-free flights were suspended on Friday after Perth and the Peel region entered a three-day shutdown. WA imposed the restrictions after it emerged a Victorian man who had spent five days in Perth subsequently tested positive for COVID.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he was satisfied the risk was low for restarting the bubble based on the advice of country’s director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield.
The new rules also mean anyone who has been identified as a close contact will have to test negative and self-isolate for 14 days before travel.
“The advice is that the Perth cluster appears to be contained and the post-lockdown transition response measures the Western Australia government introduced will provide an additional layer of assurance,” Minister Hipkins said in a statement.
The first quarantine-free flight from Perth to Auckland will be an Air New Zealand 787-9, ZK-NZM msn 38180, that will depart at 7:45pm as NZ176.
Quarantine-free travel only started last week, but New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had warned the agreement would be temporarily halted in the event of a lockdown, under what she called “flyer beware”.
In the event of a COVID cluster, the country will reserve the right to continue, pause or suspend the arrangement.
If a case was found that was clearly linked to a quarantine facility staff member and was well contained, travel will likely continue.
If a case was found that was not clearly linked, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, New Zealand would likely pause flights from that state in the same way as flights have been paused previously.
But if multiple cases occurred from an unknown origin, flights would likely be suspended for a set period of time.
The two-way arrangement officially opened on 18 April at 11:59pm and on Monday Air New Zealand operated 30 flights, and Qantas and Jetstar 29.
Qantas and Jetstar will operate 83 per cent of their pre-COVID capacity to New Zealand now the bubble has launched, and also start two new routes from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast.
In total, the Qantas Group revealed will operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, or 52,000 seats each week. It has been operating at just 3 per cent pre-COVID capacity during the current one-way arrangement.
Air New Zealand’s 30 daily flights are set to grow to more than 300 per week operating from Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth and Sydney into Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.