New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is disappointed by Australia’s decision to reinstate quarantine travel in the wake of NZ’s latest community COVID-19 case, saying the situation is “well under control”.
On Sunday, Kiwi health officials identified a first case of the virus in the community for two months.
A rigorous contact tracing and testing effort has yet to identify any evidence of COVID spreading to anyone else in the community.
That didn’t stop the Australian government from clamping down its border for 72 hours, meaning travellers would be shepherded into quarantine hotels if they boarded flights.
Ms Ardern said she told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison she was disappointed in the decision, saying she had confidence in NZ’s health efforts.
“I certainly shared my view that this was a situation that was well under control,” she said.
“If we are to enter into a trans-Tasman bubble we will need to give people confidence that we won’t see closures at the border that happen with very short notice over incidents we believe can be well-managed domestically.”
The Labour leader had previously outlined her hopes to establish a trans-Tasman bubble – or two-way quarantine-free travel between the two countries – by the end of March.
In Wellington on Tuesday after her first cabinet meeting of the year, she said Australia’s decision pushed out those hopes.
“We are continuing to pursue it … but look It does look increasingly difficult at a country-by-country level. We haven’t ruled out the possible of state-by-state.”
Ms Ardern also announced New Zealand’s regulatory authority MedSafe may give preliminary approval to the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines next week.