Passengers confused about quarantine requirements after Queensland opens border to NZ

Source: 1News

There's confusion over whether travellers who have come from New Zealand will be able to travel to Queensland without quarantining. This comes after Air New Zealand told passengers heading across to the Australian state this morning they weren't travelling on a quarantine-free flight. 

 

Queensland confirmed yesterday it would open its border to visitors from New Zealand from today, without requiring them to undergo quarantine, if they met certain requirements.

The first flight since the new exemption left Auckland at 10am today and is heading for Brisbane. According to the airline, its passengers may still be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival because it wasn't a quarantine-free flight. 

That's caught Karin du Plessis, whose 70-year-old mother is on the flight, by surprise. Her mother had come to New Zealand from South Africa, and has stayed in New Zealand for the past 11 months. 

"We know nothing, no. Yesterday morning, we woke up with the news my mother might not have to quarantine. We heard the news that it's all open borders now," du Plessis told 1 NEWS.

"We checked the Australian website ... she's got a green zone status, just going straight through.

"And then, this morning, we heard on the news last night that, no, they still need to quarantine. But, we've not heard anything."

She said the situation was "very confusing" and "really stressful". 

"My mum's 70-years-old. She's not young. My sister's on the other side, but she lives two hours away from Brisbane. 

"So, do they go and fetch her at the airport? Is she going into quarantine? We absolutely know nothing."

Du Plessis said she didn't mind if her mother needed to quarantine. But, she wanted some certainty so her family could plan around it.

Passenger Sally Aiturau is heading home to Brisbane on the flight and is hoping she would be able to see her family at the airport. She has spent the past five weeks in New Zealand. 

"I'm hoping that I won't be isolating ... they did mention that there was going to be no quarantine," she said.

"The impression is that there wasn't going to be any [quarantine]. It was going to be for New Zealanders going over to Brisbane, from 1am, no quarantine. So, that to me says I can come in and go straight home.

"And if there is [quarantine], then we just have to do it. But, it would be a disappointment."

Aiturau said the check-in staff at the airport didn't mention anything about whether or not she would need to quarantine on arrival. 

What is a quarantine-free flight?  

In a Facebook post , Queensland Health said the new travel arrangement announced yesterday would apply to “anyone from New Zealand who travels on a quarantine-free flight can come to Queensland without needing to quarantine”.

According to Air New Zealand , passengers do not have to be New Zealand citizens to travel to Australia without quarantining on arrival. But, they would need to have a valid visa to enter Australia. 

If a person does not meet the quarantine-free flight criteria, they would need to go through a managed isolation process on arrival.

To be eligible for quarantine-free travel, a person must have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been in a “designated hotspot” of Covid-19. They must also travel to Australia on a “quarantine-free” flight. The Australian Government defines a quarantine-free flight as one that only   carries passengers who meet this criteria. 

Whether or not a flight is quarantine-free is determined by the airline. 

An Air New Zealand spokesperson told 1 NEWS the flight wasn’t quarantine-free because “it takes a lot to operationalise”.

“We also have to wait and hear that all agencies in Australia are satisfied processes are in place to confidently accept quarantine-free flights.

“So at this stage, the requirement remains for customers travelling on flights from Auckland to Brisbane to quarantine on arrival.”

The spokesperson said the airline wouldn’t have more information to share until next week.