Interislander crew returned from Sydney with cold symptoms, didn’t isolate

The crew aboard the Interislander Aratere ferry that sailed to Sydney for maintenance in September did not isolate when they returned to Wellington, even though crew members told health authorities they were experiencing cold-like symptoms

The Aratere was in Sydney for scheduled maintenance and cleaning earlier this month. It arrived on September 19 and left Sydney on September 27 - arriving back in Wellington on September 30.

The Ministry of Health said the crew were all double-vaccinated and were tested for Covid-19 before they left, on arrival in Sydney, they were saliva tested daily while there, and were tested again for Covid-19 when they arrived back in Wellington.

The Ministry said "a handful of crew members had initially reported cold-like symptoms", so the crew stayed in a Wellington hotel last Friday night until a second round of Covid-19 tests also came back negative.

The Ministry said the crew did not have to isolate because they remained on-board the vessel in Sydney and that "we have been assured there was no immediate physical interaction between the crew and the Sydney-based contractors working on the ship".

"For these reasons, the assessment was that the risk to public health was minimal. The Ministry made its recommendation with these factors in mind."

ACT Party leader David Seymour said the Government should be making rules based on risk and applying them equally to everyone.

"Once again, it looks like a Government-linked organisation (Interislander is owned by Kiwirail) has got a sweet deal that private businesses would die for, and that is not fair."

During the time of the Aratere’s stay, New South Wales was frequently reporting more than 1000 new Covid-19 infections a day.