In news that is sure to be a kick in the guts for those of us who’ve been cut off from friends and family for months, seventeen travellers from New Zealand were caught trying to enter Melbourne yesterday, on day one of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
The much-anticipated travel bubble, allowing quarantine-free travel between New Zealand, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, kicked off yesterday. Melbourne is not included in the bubble, and is not currently receiving international travellers.
Nonetheless, it’s understood that the seventeen travellers in question arrived in Sydney before taking a connecting flight to Melbourne. How this happened is anyone’s guess, but the individuals were stopped at the airport, and put on connecting flights back to Sydney.
Initial reports that the travellers were detained are incorrect, as Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services does not have the authority to do that. Per Nine News, a department representative said:
“Victoria has not agreed to a travel bubble arrangement with New Zealand and did not expect to receive international travellers as a result of NSW making that arrangement. 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.”
Three international flights from arrived in Sydney yesterday, and for the first time in seven months, incoming travellers from New Zealand are not required to quarantine, provided they are free of symptoms and meet other health requirements.
Hopefully yesterday’s incident was just a bump in the road as international travel continues to reopen in Australia.
UPDATE: Despite earlier reports that the travellers had been turned around at the airport, Daniel Andrews says that they are “still in the Victorian community” and their identities are unknown as Border Force has not turned over passenger cards.
“They shouldn’t have been allowed to come here because we haven’t signed onto the travel bubble arrangements. We were the last ones to find out about it. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said, saying that the travellers will be made aware of Victoria’s safety restrictions.Image: Getty Images / Daniel Pockett