WELLINGTON, June 4 (Xinhua) — Following the decision of Australia’s Victoria state to extend their lockdown restrictions over COVID-19, New Zealand’s quarantine-free travel pause with Victoria will also be extended for an additional six days, with a further review due next Wednesday, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said Thursday.
The pause extension will prevent New Zealanders from returning for almost two weeks, and “New Zealanders will be wanting some certainty around when they can start to plan to come home,” Hipkins said in a statement.
The extension will cause further inconvenience to those whose travel plans have already been disrupted, he said.
New Zealand’s government has announced plans for a carefully managed commencement of return “green flights” from Melbourne, capital city of the Victoria state, to New Zealand, from June 8 at 11:59 p.m., Hipkins said.
Travel on such flights will be limited to New Zealand citizens, Australian citizens normally residing in New Zealand, people with humanitarian exemptions and critical workers stranded in Victoria, he said.
Anyone boarding these flights will need to have a negative pre-departure test for COVID-19 taken less than 72 hours before departure, the minister said, adding travelers have to be confirmed that they have not been at a location of interest.
New Zealand’s quarantine-free travel with Australia’s Victoria state was suspended on May 25 due to a community outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne. The two sides kicked off the Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel in April, hoping to boost economic and tourism recovery from the pandemic.