Anyone flying to New Zealand from Australia must return a negative Covid-19 test within
72 hours of departure if they have been in Victoria recently, the Government says.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was introducing the pre-departure testing as an additional precaution.
Travellers who had been in Victoria on or after May 20 and were not otherwise prevented from travelling to New Zealand, would need to test negative before they got on a plane here, Hipkins said in a statement.
Hipkins told media that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his crew, who are due to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday, had pre-departure tests which were negative.
"His travel plans would not be affected," Hipkins said.
Morrison had been in the Greater Melbourne area recently.
Anyone who had been in Victoria since 7:59pm on May 25 could not fly to New Zealand at all because of the travel pause in place.
Extra checks would be in place at points of departure and arrival so any travellers who fall into this category, regardless of where in Australia they are flying to New Zealand from, must keep evidence of a negative pre-departure test on them at all times.
Failure to produce evidence could result in people being denied boarding, or penalties on arrival in New Zealand. The only exception was for children under the age of 2, the statement said.
There would be some flexibility over the next 48 hours to cater for people who would not have time to wait for a negative test before their scheduled flight, Hipkins said.
He said there was no punishment for the pre-departure tests yet, as there were people who would not be able to comply to get a test back before they were due to flight.
Hipkins said there was still much that was unknown about the Indian variant.
"Whenever there is a growing number of a community cases it causes some anxiety and I feel for our Australian counterpart."
Hipkins said this step was being taken to ensure those people who had been in Melbourne during the infectious period of the original detected Covid-19 cases, but who had since flown to another state, couldn't fly on to New Zealand without first confirming they don't have the virus.
The health and safety of New Zealanders was at the centre of the decision-making, Hipkins said.
"Case numbers have risen in Victoria again today, and there are growing numbers of locations of interest."
While travellers who had left Victoria before May 25 were not a "major risk" to New Zealand, it was about reducing that risk as much as possible, Hipkins said.
"A negative pre-departure test can give us a higher degree of confidence that a person will not be infectious upon arrival in New Zealand."
The Covid-19 response minister is set to answer questions from the media at 5pm today.
The Ministry of Health last night announced it was pausing quarantine-free travel with Victoria until Friday, June 4.
Yesterday it was announced people would not be able to travel between Victoria and New Zealand without needing to quarantine until at least 7.58pm on Friday, June 4.
The ministry's contact tracing team has been scrambling to track down 5000 people who arrived in New Zealand from Melbourne between May 20 and May 25.
An email from the contact tracing team instructed those travellers to self-isolate at home or the accommodation they were staying in until they had a negative result.
It also instructed them to contact Healthline if they need further advice or to report if they had been at a location of interest.
As of this morning, about 500 of those 5000 people were unable to be reached by email and were being followed up with phone calls and texts.
Contact tracers previously contacted everyone who returned to New Zealand from Melbourne since May 11 and gave advice about checking locations of interest and other actions required.
A statement from the ministry said director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield now required everyone who had visited the Greater Melbourne area since May 20 to isolate at their place of residence until they receive a negative Covid-19 test result.
"This is an additional precaution. The number of locations of interest around Melbourne has grown substantially, making it difficult for visitors to easily keep track."
Yesterday, Acting Victoria Premier James Merlino put the state in a seven-day "circuit breaker" lockdown in response to the new active cases in Melbourne.
Thirty people have tested positive for the virus in the community in Melbourne – four new cases were confirmed overnight.
That number is expected to increase given there were 150 exposure sites across the city and more than 10,000 contacts identified.
Merlino will provide another update later today.
Officials said the variant of Covid in the Melbourne outbreak was the B.1.617.1 variant first reported in India. It is considered more infectious than the original variant.
Typical symptoms to look out for include
• A new or worsening cough.
• Fever (at least 38˚C).
• Shortness of breath.
• Sore throat.
• Sneezing and runny nose.
• Temporary loss of smell.
Some people may present with atypical symptoms, with or without typical symptoms. These include new onset of:
• Myalgia (muscle pain.