Victoria’s travel bubble in New Zealand will be halted.

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Because of population Covid-19 cases in Melbourne, New Zealand’s quarantine-free travel with Victoria will be halted for 72 hours beginning at 8 p.m.

A passenger wearing a face mask arrives from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport on October 16, 2020, after Australia’s border rules were relaxed under a new one-way trans-Tasman travel agreement.

Photo: AFP

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement that the travel bubble will be put on hold until an enquiry into five community incidents discovered recently in Victoria was underway.

Whole genome sequencing revealed that the cases announced yesterday were closely related to a previous case discovered in the Wollert population on 11 May after leaving controlled isolation in South Australia.

An epidemiological connection between these events is yet to be established, and there is no confirmed link between people in the epidemic and either of the Wollert exposure sites.

Information about locations of interest are provided on the Victoria Health website and are being updated regularly.

The cluster has prompted the state government to reintroduce measures such as the mandatory wearing of masks indoors, and limits on both private and public gatherings from 6pm (Australian time) tonight.

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The travel pause will come into force from 7.59pm NZT and be in place for 72 hours initially. As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review.

Officials have decided to put the bubble on hold as a precaution due to “several unknowns” with the outbreak, Hipkins said.

The minister said the decision was in line with the travel bubble framework.

Air New Zealand cancelled 20 flights over the next 72 hours, because of the pause.

Flights from Auckland to Melbourne would continue as normal, but direct flights from Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown would be cancelled.

Passengers on those flights will be moved to Auckland.

One flight from Melbourne to Auckland will arrive until the delay went into effect tonight.

However, a flight from Melbourne to Wellington was cancelled because it was scheduled to arrive after 8 p.m.

Qantas and Jetstar were both evaluating the effect of the delay on their schedules.

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In Australia, any who have visited locations of interest are ineligible to fly to New Zealand within 14 days of exposure, even though they have a negative Covid-19 result.

Anyone in New Zealand who was in Melbourne at the stated time should call Healthline at 0800 358 5453 as soon as possible for advice on isolating and checking.

Anyone who has visited Melbourne since May 11 should keep an eye out for signs and seek advice from Healthline if they appear.

Under the Health Act, a Section 70 notice has been provided with a set of conditions for those who visited a place of concern.

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