Sunday, 13 December 2020

First New Zealand flight forced into Queensland quarantine

Expectations that a plane load of passengers from New Zealand would walk out of Brisbane airport were dashed when the travellers and their waiting families were told they were going into quarantine.
As the travellers were put onto waiting buses, confused family members, who had arrived to collect them, were left bewildered. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reopened the state to NZ from 1am Saturday, saying residents would no longer need to abide by COVID-19 travel restrictions. But when the first flight touched down in Brisbane about 10.45am on Saturday, passengers were whisked away in buses to begin a mandatory fortnight in hotel quarantine.
Ronel Van Ferguson Berg, who was at the airport to pick up her mother, told 7NEWS that they could only wave.
“We just got here and we were told we can wave from up here but we can’t take them back,” Mrs Van Ferguson Berg said. A spokesman for the premier said the travellers had arrived on a “red” flight which included passengers from other countries.
“So all the passengers on that plane have to go into hotel quarantine because you had Kiwis sitting next to people from the United States, for example,” he told AAP.
Passengers from NZ on the flight were told they would need to quarantine before taking off and had the option to wait for a “green” flight with only locals abroad, he said.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the first quarantine-free flight from NZ was due to arrive on Wednesday.
“There is a national protocol that Qld has adopted, which splits people on flights who have only been in safe travel zone countries, versus those who have also been in other countries,” she said.
Anyone who travels on a quarantine-free or green flight - where every passenger has been in NZ for at least 14 days - will not need to quarantine on arrival.

“Anyone who doesn’t travel on a quarantine-free flight is still subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine,” Dr Young said.

“The risk is simply too high to end their quarantine early.” Queensland has not had a locally-acquired COVID-19 case for 88 days. There was one new virus diagnosis in hotel quarantine reported on Saturday, with 23 active cases in the state. On Friday Ms Palaszczuk said travellers from NZ would able to travel to Qld from Saturday and “families would finally be reunited in time for Christmas”. “I know that is going to mean so much to families that have been missing loved ones for such a long time,” she said.

The decision to lift travel restrictions for travellers from NZ came after the country clocked up 28 days without a locally-acquired virus case.

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