New Zealand resumes Perth travel bubble after Covid-19 scare

The bubble has been hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bubble has been hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand on Sunday (May 2) agreed to reopen its travel bubble with Western Australia, 24 hours after grounding flights when three people in Perth tested positive for Covid-19.

Health officials said that following consultation with their Australian counterparts they determined the risk to New Zealand was not significant and flight could resume on Monday.

However, anyone who has been at "locations of interest" identified by the Western Australian government cannot travel to New Zealand within 14 days of exposure.

"While the public health risk is deemed low, we must all remain vigilant as we enjoy the opportunities quarantine-free travel has given us," the director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said.

It was the second disruption to the ground-breaking travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia in the two weeks since it opened, ending more than a year since both closed their international borders due to the pandemic.

Flights between New Zealand and Western Australia were briefly suspended when the Perth and Peel regions were sent into a three-day lockdown after recording a case of community transmission on April 23.

Flights two other states and territories have not been affected.

The bubble, which followed months of negotiations between the largely coronavirus-free neighbours, has been hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand's tourism industry was its biggest export industry before Covid-19, with Australians accounting for about 40 per cent of the international visitors.