Additional requirements in trans-Tasman bubble being 'seriously’ considered

Cabinet is "very seriously considering" additional restrictions within the trans-Tasman bubble, such as pre-departure tests for people coming from Australia, ahead of tomorrow's review of the pause. 

Man sitting on an airplane using his phone while wearing a mask.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explained to media today the criteria that would impact tomorrow's decision. 

Contributing issues would be the level of uncertainty around some cases across Australia (such as the case in a Northern Territory mine incident and the flight attendant with Covid who flew to multiple states), the level of cautiousness of New Zealand, and how individual states respond to states with outbreaks such as NSW. 

"We'll be looking at the status of each of these situations and of course the impact of NSW on other states... then we'll just be applying a level of cautiousness.

"We don't want a situation where because we haven't taken a cautious approach, we've exposed New Zealand unnecessarily to risk."

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said Cabinet would also look at 'step down' measures for states which New Zealand re-opens travel with at some point. 

"Pre-departure testing is highly likely to be one of those measures," he said. 

Ardern said considerations in re-opening the bubble could factor in the timeframe needed for people to get tests before travel.

Cabinet was considering whether Government would need to bring people home from states in Australia prior to re-opening the bubble, if the pause for some states last a longer period of time. 

Australia’s closed the trans-Tasman travel bubble for at least 72 hours after the new Covid-19 community case in Northland.

The bubble with the whole of Australia was paused Saturday night for at least three days as multiple cases in different states were emerging.

Yesterday, Hipkins said that pre-departure testing would be a feature of reopening of the trans-Tasman bubble, but those stuck overseas had to "hold tight".

"The pause will give us time to look at if we need to impose additional measures and understand the situation in Australia," he said. 

Hipkins on Friday said rolling out pre-departure test requirements across Australia was "certainly an option" .

"Pre-departure testing could be a useful tool, when applied in the right circumstances. It is one we will consider over the next few days."

The Government enforced a rule last month for people travelling to New Zealand from Australia to get and pass a pre-departure Covid-19 test , if they were in Victoria in the days leading up to the state's bubble pause. 

In January, New Zealand rolled out a requirement for most countries (at the time excluding Australia, Antarctica or most Pacific Islands) to present a negative pre-departure test before entering.