Whereabouts of 17 NZ passengers in Melbourne still unknown, Daniel Andrews says

  • Whereabouts of 17 NZ passengers in Melbourne still unknown, Daniel Andrews says

Whereabouts of 17 NZ passengers in Melbourne still unknown, Daniel Andrews says

Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said its authorised officers did not have legal authority to detain travellers on arrival.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said in order for the airline to continue to carry passengers safely and identify passengers with travel not originating in New Zealand, it had introduced "quarantine" and "quarantine-free" flights.

Saturday's statistics show the 14-day rolling average of new cases up to Friday stands at 8.1 for metropolitan Melbourne and 0.5 for regional areas.

However Victoria is not accepting overseas arrivals at the moment and the move sparked an outcry from Victorian health authorities for allowing them to slip through.

"The Victorian government has made it clear to the Commonwealth that we expect NZ passengers who have not undertaken quarantine will not be permitted to board flights in Sydney bound for Melbourne".

"Until Australian Border Force give us the cards, we have no way of knowing", he said.

New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the new corridor for travel to Australia was welcomed, and hoped the bubble would be completed by Christmas. "Other states and territories may be added at a later date".

The federal government has been increasingly putting pressure on Andrews to reopen the city and the state, with Health Minister Greg Hunt saying on Twitter on Saturday that it was time to ease.

More than a dozen travellers from New Zealand have reportedly been detained at Melbourne airport after attempting to visit family.

At Sydney Airport there were tears and hugs as loved ones reunited, with many passengers flying one-way.

Victoria's capital Melbourne, which has been the epicentre of the country's Covid-19 outbreak, is in its third month of a stringent lockdown and Premier Daniel Andrews is due to update plans to ease restrictions across the state on Sunday.

Jetstar and Air New Zealand offered the first quarantine-free flights on Friday from Auckland into Sydney.

Victoria's border remains open, however the state did not elect to be included in the travel bubble with New Zealand.

In Victoria, the epicentre of the second wave of infections in Australia, the authorities recorded just two new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily increase since early June.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.