Travellers arriving as part of the newly minted international arrangements with New Zealand have left state authorities scrambling after taking internal flights to jurisdictions outside of the travel bubble.
- Dozens of travellers from NZ have headed to Victoria and Western Australia
- Neither state is part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble arrangement
- The Federal Government says the onus is on incoming passengers to do the right thing
Under the original arrangements, New Zealanders were granted access to fly into New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
But on Friday night it emerged that some trans-Tasman arrivals took connecting flights to Melbourne.
Victorian authorities have now spoken to all 55 people who were expected to arrive in the state to explain local coronavirus rules.
In a statement, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said some of the travellers were in family groups, with most staying in private homes.
Three of the travellers expected to arrive in Victoria did not end up crossing the border into the state and remain in NSW.
And one who was in Victoria returned to NSW on Sunday.
“Twenty-one of the 55 travellers arrived at Melbourne Airport … the remainder arrived using other modes of transport,” the statement said.
“DHHS authorised officers continue to meet incoming flights at Melbourne Airport and provide information to arriving passengers.”
Authorities in West Australia have also confirmed 23 people, including a child, all from New Zealand, are in hotel or home quarantine after flying into Perth overnight.
WA has a hard border and Premier Mark McGowan said the Federal Government needed to provide more support.
“We would like further assistance from the Commonwealth, in particular, about making sure that those people who come on aircraft into WA that we get proper manifests and proper advice as to those people that are coming so we can deal with these situations,” he said.
Unlike Western Australia, Victoria does not have restrictions on incoming domestic arrivals, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also criticised the way the New Zealand travel arrangements unfolded.
He said his government had repeatedly requested to be excluded from the arrangement.
“We were asked, ‘Do you want to be in the bubble?’ and we said no,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday, while announcing the relaxation of some of the state’s lockdown measures.
The Premier said the Federal Government originally advised him there were 17 travellers from New Zealand who had entered Victoria, but it later emerged there were up to 55 possible arrivals. Authorities have been racing to get in touch with them and make sure they are aware of lockdown restrictions.
“So this is gold standard, apparently, according to the Federal Government,” Mr Andrews said.
“I’ve got no power to stop them coming in,” he added.
“No-one is alleging that the virus is hiding in New Zealand, it’s not.
“What was concerning is that a bunch of people turned up and we didn’t know about it.”
Mr Andrews wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday, calling for new arrivals from across the Tasman to be prevented from catching internal flights from New South Wales to Victoria.
“I urgently request your action to prohibit onward travel of passengers under the Safe Travel Zone arrangements into Victoria,” the letter says.
A spokesperson for the Federal Government released a statement arguing the onus was on the incoming passenger to make themselves aware of the requirements when they travel internally.
“On arrival into Australia from New Zealand, passengers are advised to check the entry requirements for other states which includes needing to undertake hotel quarantine if they travel to WA,” the statement said.
“It is exactly the same arrangement for if a traveller from any Australian state went to WA, they would be required to undertake hotel quarantine.”
The statement said there had been meetings with state health authorities that foreshadowed how it would work.
“The travel bubble is working exactly as it was outlined at multiple meetings of the expert medical panel over the past fortnight where the CHO [Chief Health Officer] from WA was in attendance,” the spokesperson said.
“As per the 18 September National Cabinet decision, airlines must provide passenger records to state authorities if requested for contact tracing.”