Wellington will return to Alert Level 1 from 11.59pm tonight, eight days after a tourist from Sydney infected with Covid left the capital. Video / Mark Mitchell
Wellington appears to have “dodged a bullet” and is safe enough to return to level 1 today, after more than 8,000 tests over the past week which gave no positive results.
And the government has also ruled it safe enough to resume travel without quarantine – with a new negative test requirement before departure – with South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria from Monday.
Travelers must not have been to Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia by 10:30 p.m. (NZT) on June 26, when the transtasman bubble break first went into effect. They also must not have been in New South Wales on or after 11:59 p.m. (NZT) on June 22.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said Cabinet will review the situation with New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory next Monday, with announcements expected on next day.
After a holiday weekend spent in the capital by a tourist from Syndey who was later found to be a carrier of the Delta variant, the University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Nick Wilson said the situation in Wellington now seemed “quite favorable”.
“So we probably dodged a bullet on this one. But it’s still important that people get tested and that there is an increased level of surveillance left for Wellington.”
Wilson said the fear of the capital had turned out to be a “missed opportunity” to demand masks and mandatory scanning of QR codes throughout the city.
“These types of measures would have made this particular episode less of a concern if these additional safeguards had been in place – but it is good news that the government is reviewing them.”
The government is now actively reviewing these measures, including their enforceability.
Wellington returned to Alert Level 1 at 11:59 p.m. last night – eight days after a tourist from Sydney infected with Covid left the capital.
The virus can incubate for up to 14 days, but chief health officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the likelihood of people in Wellington still incubating the virus was “now very low”.
While there were still around 100 contacts to be tested, they will have been isolated for a full 14 days.
Wellington Entertainment Group director of hotel operations Cody Halton said the Level 1 announcement was “very welcome” news.
The drop in business has been quite significant, but he said people were much more understanding this time around.
“We really hope this weekend is important, not everyone can go out last weekend.
“It’s just important that Wellington sticks together. Like I said, the hotel scene thrives because of the local residents of Wellington.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a requirement for pre-departure testing within 72 hours of a flight to New Zealand would likely be in place for some time.
Options for Kiwis stuck in the New South Wales lockdown who wish to return to New Zealand will be considered next week, Ardern said.
Meanwhile, the two contacts in New Zealand linked to the positive case who worked at a gold mine in the Northern Territory tested negative.
“Health officials were also told of 40 people in New Zealand who were classified as contacts of the flight attendant in New South Wales, who had tested positive,” the Department of Health said. .
“All of these people have been contacted, have had their first test and all results are negative. A number of these people continue to self-isolate and will begin testing on Day 5, depending on their contact classification.”
The Greater Sydney Area in New South Wales, the Greater Darwin Area in the Northern Territory, and the Perth and Peel Areas in Western Australia are now all on lockdown.
Restrictions are also in place across South Australia – which has no cases – and Queensland.