People from seven Sydney COVID-19 hotspots have been banned from travelling to Victoria after the Bondi cluster grew to 21 cases.
And there are fresh concerns passengers on trans-Tasman planes might have been infected with the coronavirus, with two flights on the latest list of exposure sites.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health announced just before 7am on Wednesday that it had tracked four close contacts of an Australian passenger who flew from Sydney to Wellington while infectious.
“This is the first time an Australian traveller has brought COVID-19 to NZ, and since gone home,” the ministry said.
Late on Tuesday, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, declared seven Sydney local government areas red zones under his state’s travel permit system.
People from the municipalities of Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra, Bayside, Canada Bay, Inner West and Randwick are barred from entering Victoria from 1am on Wednesday.
Victorians who have visited a red zone in NSW can still return home but must self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Wollongong, south of Sydney, has also been listed as an orange zone. Travellers to Victoria from there must get tested soon after arrival and isolate until they receive a negative result.
People from NSW are also barred from travelling to New Zealand until at least Friday.
The pause to quarantine-free travel with NSW will potentially trap Kiwi travellers to Sydney, given their government’s “flyer beware” model New Zealanders who jet off to Australia do so at their own risk. The ban came into effect on Tuesday night.
New exposure sites named
Late on Tuesday, NSW Health revealed Qantas flight QF163 to Wellington last Friday night had an infectious passenger on board.
The active case came home on Air New Zealand flight NZ247 from Wellington to Sydney on Monday morning.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health said it was “most likely” the traveller contracted the virus in Sydney prior to visiting New Zealand.
All four close contacts are isolating, while all passengers on the flights between Sydney and Wellington are urged to get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their result.
NSW Health also revealed an infectious person dined at Totti’s Italian restaurant at The Royal Bondi on Saturday between 5-6.30pm.
Elsewhere, a casual contact attended The Royal Bondi (other than Totti’s) on Saturday and shopped at Woolworths in Spring Farm on Monday morning.
Sydney AFL teams leave NSW, but NRL players to stay put
AFL clubs GWS and Sydney have temporarily moved players and football staff to Victoria to ensure they can play their respective matches this coming weekend.
Sunday’s clash between GWS and Hawthorn has been moved from Giants Stadium to the MCG.
Sydney is due to take on Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, with team management hoping players can fly in and out of South Australia on the same day, as Collingwood and Geelong did earlier in June during Melbourne’s COVID outbreak.
The AFL has lobbied the Victorian government for 50 per cent crowd capacity at the MCG and Marvel Stadium this weekend. A decision is due on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, NRL players and club staff in greater Sydney will be unable to leave home except to attend training or for an essential activity.
Players are banned from using public transport and going to crowded places such as shopping centres, restaurants and cafes.
But they are able to walk their dogs and go to parks with their families.
More eased restrictions expected for Victoria
Victorian authorities are expected to unveil more eased restrictions on Wednesday, with Professor Sutton saying on Tuesday “we’re absolutely on the right track”.
He said it was likely there were to be fewer differences in rules for regional Victoria and Melbourne after this week.
Positive outcomes are also likely for larger guest lists at weddings this weekend. However, Professor Sutton would not be drawn on whether crowds would be allowed at AFL, A-League and NBL games.
Victoria had no new local coronavirus cases on Wednesday, following more than 28,000 tests.
It was the state’s seventh consecutive day of either zero or just one local case. The number of exposure sites has dropped to 96.
In other news, Victorians are being welcomed back to other states in time for the July school holidays.
South Australia and Queensland said on Tuesday they would reopen their borders to Victorians from Friday.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory have also opened their borders to greater Melbourne. The travel bubble with New Zealand resumes from Wednesday.