New Zealand has paused travel with NSW after two coronavirus cases emerged in the community this week.
NZ’s COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, hours after NSW health authorities confirmed the wife of the man whose positive diagnosis emerged on Wednesday had also caught the virus.
The pause will last at least 48 hours from midnight Thursday (NZ time).
“We indicated when we opened up the trans-Tasman travel bubble, we would continue to be cautious, we are continuing to be cautious,” Mr Hipkins said.
The infected Sydney man has the same COVID-19 strain as a man who travelled from the US, who is currently in hotel quarantine. Authorities are rushing to try to find the “missing link” between the pair.
There have been no positive virus tests in hotel quarantine workers so far.
Australian states have also slapped restrictions on Sydneysiders after the second community case was confirmed on Thursday.
From 1am Friday, Queensland will require anyone who has visited one of the numerous exposure sites linked to the outbreak to go into hotel quarantine.
“We will have police and health workers meeting flights coming in to Queensland to just check with passengers whether they have been at those venues,” state Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Thursday.
Anyone arriving in Queensland who has been in NSW since April 27 is also required to get tested for the coronavirus.
Victoria also requires that anyone who has visited an exposure site is tested. South Australian authorities said on Thursday that anyone who had arrived there from NSW since April 30 should monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if they developed.
Western Australia wants anyone who has visited NSW exposure sites to self-quarantine for 14 days and get a COVID test on days two and 12.
“So far we have had no arrivals into Western Australia who have been linked to any of the exposure sites,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.
“.That is welcome but we must remain vigilant. We hope NSW can get on top of this outbreak quickly.”
- See the latest NSW exposure sites here
The Sydney outbreak grew to two cases on Thursday – the man in his 50s whose infection emerged on Wednesday and his wife.
A swathe of COVID-19 restrictions will be reimposed across greater Sydney, Illawarra and the central coast from 5pm on Thursday as health authorities hunt for the “missing link” between the infected Sydney couple as a coronavirus-positive traveller in hotel quarantine.
Masks will be compulsory at all public indoor venues and on public transport, while visitors in homes will be capped at 20.
Singing or dancing indoors is banned with an exception for weddings where numbers on the dancefloor will be limited to 20.
Drinkers in bars must be seated and just two visitors will be allowed for residents in aged care homes.
The restrictions will remain until at least Monday morning. But Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated businesses should remain open over the Mother’s Day weekend.
“We know for sure that someone with the virus has been moving around the community and doesn’t know they have it and may have infected many other people … what we’re doing is a very precautionary response,” she said.
“Unlike other premiers, we’re not shutting down the city.”
“If you’ve got a booking (this weekend), go to the booking, enjoy Mother’s Day, do what you would normally do,” Ms Berejiklian said.
On the issue of state border closures she said: “We’re not shutting down anything in NSW, so other premiers shouldn’t even think about that.”
NSW Health confirmed the man from Sydney’s east who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday had infected his wife but no other close contacts so far.
“If we’d been able to identify the case in between, the missing link or links, of course we would’ve taken a different approach,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But we know for a fact there’s at least one person, if not more, walking around with the virus, not knowing they have it or potentially having attended many events and venues … this is a proportionate response.”
His case forced NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet into self-isolation after he attended the same Sydney CBD restaurant as the coronavirus-positive man.
Mr Perrottet has already taken a COVID-19 test and returned a negative result. However, he said he would remain in isolation for 14 days.
NSW Health believes the unvaccinated Sydney man who was diagnosed on Wednesday has been infectious since last Friday.
The list of venues of concern includes barbecue shops in Silverwater, Annandale and Casula, a meat store in Bondi Junction and a petrol station in Mascot.
Sydney Roosters NRL players and Sydney Swans AFL players have also been sent for COVID-19 tests and staff have been told to stay home after the virus-positive man visited Azure Cafe in Moore Park, less than 100 metres from the Roosters’ headquarters.