New Zealanders trapped in Victoria due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown will soon be able to return after completing a fortnight in quarantine-like conditions.
On Thursday, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said Kiwis would have completed a fortnight in isolation, and would be able to return home from June 9 – if they had not been to an exposure site and could produce a recent negative test.
“With a negative test, we can have a good degree of confidence that the risk of them coming home with COVID is very low,” he said.
Many Kiwis found themselves stuck in Victoria last week after the outbreak prompted the NZ government to suspend quarantine-free travel across the Tasman.
The pathway home was a surprise announcement, with many expecting an extension to the quarantine-free travel suspension in line with the extension to Melbourne’s lockdown announced on Wednesday.
Melbourne will remain locked down until at least June 11. But Kiwis can take flight two days sooner as that will mark a fortnight in isolation.
“They will have been locked down for 14 days, which as New Zealand are familiar with is the period of time that we would typically use in New Zealand if we were worried that there had been any kind of infection,” Mr Hipkins said.
The exemption will be possible only for NZ citizens, Australians who usually live in New Zealand, humanitarian exemptions and critical workers.
Mr Hipkins said the quarantine-free travel suspension for Victoria would continue to apply to tourists.
The decision is expected to spark a scramble for tickets on flights, which will be operated commercially.