Covid 19 coronavirus travel bubble: Fate of transtasman quarantine-free travel decided today

The fate of the transtasman travel bubble is expected to be announced this afternoon.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cut her recess holiday short and will be joining Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield to provide an update at 1.30pm regarding the quarantine-free travel arrangements with Australia.

It comes after an urgent Cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon with half of the Australian population in lockdown and NSW yesterday recording the most daily cases since the latest Delta outbreak began.

It’s understood a complete pause on all travel from Australia was being considered at Cabinet.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said that an update was expected on Thursday but no update was released.

Now an update has been set for 1.30pm Friday.

The meeting was understood to be a full Cabinet meeting, with ministers meeting despite many being on leave – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

Half of the Australian population is currently in lockdown and NSW yesterday had the most daily cases since the latest Delta outbreak began.

A major safety issue remains with up to half of the arrivals from Australia not being checked for negative pre-departure tests.

This morning an automated voice message on the Air New Zealand general inquiries phone line suggested the transtasman travel bubble was already closed.

The automated voice message said: “The New Zealand Government has announced an extended pause on quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand. We are working closely with the Government for people to return home as soon as possible.”

Asked about the message, Air New Zealand general manager of customer Leeanne Langridge said it was recorded and uploaded on 5pm on Wednesday, July 21 in response to large increases in call volumes.

“With Quarantine Free Travel paused from a number of Australian states, we found customers were confused about their ability to travel and the team tried to simplify the message. Unfortunately in this case the simplification has led to an incorrect message that the New Zealand Government had announced an extended pause of quarantine-free travel with Australia,” Langridge said.

“This is a rapidly changing environment, and our teams are doing their best to get the most up to date information to customers, we apologise that in this case we may have added to the confusion.”

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