6 May 2021

Watch: NZ's quarantine-free travel with New South Wales to be paused

8:54 pm on 6 May 2021

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed that flights from New South Wales to New Zealand will be paused from midnight tonight for 48 hours.

sunset,  Sydney harbor, New South Wales, Australia

Photo: 123rf.com

Speaking to media this evening, Hipkins said it had been a "finely balanced decision" and he was aware it could disrupt people's plans for travel to or from NSW. He also warned the cessation of flights could go on longer.

"If further information comes to light that means we need to extend that, we have the ability to do that."

He said about 6000 people who have travelled from NSW in the past six days will be contacted and contact traced.

Minister for Covid-19 Response, Chris Hipkins.

Minister for Covid-19 Response, Chris Hipkins. Photo: Dom Thomas

New Zealand health officials had been in talks with Australian authorities this afternoon about the community cases of Covid-19 in Sydney.

A man from Sydney's eastern suburbs with no known link to the border tested positive for the virus yesterday, while his wife tested positive today.

Hipkins said this evening that the Sydney case was likely to have come from managed isolation but that there was no obvious link as to how it got into the community.

"Sometimes it takes a wee while to identify a train of transmission.

"They will be working as hard as they can to try and identify that."

He said it was likely to have been seven or eight days since the source of infection arrived in Australia.

Most Air New Zealand flights cancelled

Air New Zealand flights to and from Sydney tomorrow have been cancelled, except for one.

NZ103 will fly from Auckland tomorrow morning, with passengers and cargo.

The return service from Sydney has been renumbered, and will be cargo only.

In a statement, Air New Zealand said that customers on affected flights are being given the option to rebook or put their flight into credit.

It said customers who purchased a refundable ticket are being given the option of a refund.

Meanwhile, the NSW government announced it would re-introduce a raft of restrictions for Greater Sydney following the cases.

Restrictions will apply until at least Monday and limit household guests to 20, make masks compulsory in indoor public venues and on public transport, and restrict aged care visitation to two people.

Aerial view of Sydney Opera House, and the harbour.

Photo: 123rf