Covid-19: Australia extends New Zealand travel restrictions for another 72 hours

Source: 1News

Australia has extended restrictions on New Zealanders entering the country for another 72 hours as it awaits more information on recent Covid-19 community cases in Northland and Auckland.

Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd delivered the news in a press conference this afternoon.

This means the restrictions will go through until Sunday afternoon.

Kidd says the fact New Zealand's latest cases are the more transmissible South African variant was the major factor behind the decision.

"This variant is being reported as being 50 percent more transmissible than previous strains of Covid-19," he said.

Kidd also apologised to those who have had travel arrangements disrupted because of the pause on the one-way bubble.

However, he added it, "allows continuing protection of the people of Australia while the extent of the situation in New Zealand continues to be clarified."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded to this afternoon's news by repeating she has "confidence in our systems and processes, but acknowledge the decision is for the Australian government to make."

Initially on Monday, the Australian government reinstated the 14-day quarantine requirements in response to a new case in the community north of Auckland.

Anyone that had arrived in Australia from New Zealand since January 9 was asked to isolate and arrange to get a test and remain in isolation until they received a negative test result.

Ardern criticised that decision, saying she told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of her disappointment, and that Kiwi health authorities had the situation "well under control".

While all international arrivals to New Zealand have been forced into a fortnight of hotel quarantine on arrival since April, Australian states had relaxed restrictions to Kiwis travelling to Australia from late last year.

This came to a grinding halt on Monday, with a number of flights from New Zealand to Australia being cancelled at the last minute, leaving Kiwis stranded.

The latest restriction extension will lead to more cancellations and a longer wait for those hoping to travel across the ditch.