Here's an important Covid-19 update:
Georgia Forrester and George Block
A Kmart and a vape store in Auckland are the latest locations linked to the movements of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The owner of the vape store, Dark Vapes, in East Tamaki, said the closure of his shop on Wednesday for deep cleaning, followed by his mandatory self-isolation, would be tough for his small business.
Three new community cases of Covid-19 in south Auckland were announced on Tuesday.
The first was a student at Papatoetoe High School, which the Ministry of Health announced earlier in the day. Two other cases – the student’s siblings, who are a teenager and an infant – were confirmed on Tuesday evening.
Kmart in Botany, in east Auckland, and Dark Vapes are among the places of interest visited by one of the cases, with further locations expected to be released on Wednesday.
The teenager reported as a new case on Tuesday night works at Kmart Botany.
They were at work on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, between 3.30pm and 10.30pm.
The store was closed on Tuesday night, and a thorough sanitisation of the store was being carried out, a Kmart spokesperson said.
Thirty-one Kmart staff have been identified as close contacts and are self-isolating, the ministry said.
Any members of the public who visited Kmart Botany at the times the student was working is considered a casual plus contact, and must self-isolate at home immediately.
Casual plus contacts are those who would have been considered casual contacts, but have been upgraded due to the risk of the more transmissible strains of the virus.
“If you are a casual plus contact, you are advised to immediately isolate at home and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on isolation time frames and testing requirements,” the ministry said.
One of the two high school students announced as new cases on Tuesday also twice visited Dark Vapes in East Tamaki, on Friday and Saturday.
The owner, who did not want to be named, said the store would be closed on Wednesday for deep cleaning, and he would isolate at home for 14-days, as per Ministry of Health advice.
“It's going to be tough for the business.”
He said the store would be able to reopen after cleaning as another staff member was available to help run it.
The owner did not know the identity of the case who visited.
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said she was not sure which of the cases visited the store.
The visits to the vape store took place on Friday, February 19 between 2.30pm and 4pm, and also Saturday, February 20, between 7pm and 8.30pm.
People who visited the store during these times are considered to be casual-plus contacts.
More locations are expected to be released by the ministry on its website.
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New Zealand-Australia travel bubble - all you need to know about quarantine-free travel between NZ and Aus
Tomorrow night, the transtasman bubble opens - allowing Kiwis and Aussies the chance to travel between each other's countries, quarantine-free, for the first time in a year. However it's not quite back to normal when it comes to travel. Here's what you need to know.
What's the transtasman bubble?
It's two-way quarantine-free commercial flights - also known as "green" flights - between New Zealand and all states and territories of Australia, and it starts at 11.59pm tomorrow. It's also just the second travel bubble in the world, after Taiwan and Palau, between countries still committed to keeping Covid-19 out.
Sweet. Who's my ride?
Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar are the only airlines flying the route at this stage. Virgin Australia says it will stay away until October 31.
An Air New Zealand return flight to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne out of Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch leaving May 1 and returning a week later will cost - including stowed luggage - between $643 and $717 per person. An Auckland to Perth return flight with the national carrier is $1179 on the same dates. Qantas flights between the three main cities in each country are similar prices: Auckland to Melbourne is $677 return and the same flights from Christchurch are $932. Low-cost carrier Jetstar charges slightly less than the major airlines: A return flight between Auckland and Sydney is $634, including stowed baggage.
Booked. Now what?
Just in case it hasn't sunk in over the past 13 months, if you feel unwell, stay at home and seek advice from Healthline on 0800 611 116.
Australia-bound passengers must complete the online Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure, where you'll be expected to provide contact details and answer questions about your health and whether you've spent time outside New Zealand in the previous 14 days.
The declaration will need to be presented at check-in. You should also bring evidence of any pre-existing conditions, such as hay fever, when you check in, to avoid being denied boarding. Also, check conditions of your travel insurance with regards to being denied boarding because of Covid-19. On your return to New Zealand you'll also have to meet conditions such as having only been in a country that's been designated as a quarantine-free place, and not tested positive - or awaiting a test result - for Covid-19, in the past 14 days. You'll also have to complete a travel declaration at the time of booking your flight, and a health declaration at check-in.
Anything else I can expect at the airport?
Health professionals may be stationed at airports to do random temperature checks and health assessments of travellers. You also won't come into contact with travellers from other countries.
To mask or not to mask?
Unless you're exempt, you'll be expected to wear a face mask while crossing the Tasman. One will be provided by the airline if you don't have one. You should also wear your mask while inside airports in New Zealand and Australia.
Do I need to get a Covid-19 test before my flight?
If you're well and haven't potentially been exposed to Covid-19, no, you don't need a negative Covid-19 pre-departure test to travel to Australia on a quarantine-free flight. Australia has sometimes introduced requirements for testing on arrival for people from New Zealand, so keep an eye on the requirement of the state you're arriving in - covid19.govt.nz has links to state and territory travel information. I haven't received my Covid-19 vaccination yet - can I still travel to Australia?
What if there's an outbreak of Covid-19 which sparks a lockdown or halts quarantine-free travel while I'm in Australia?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been quite clear on this: Transtasman travel is at your own risk. It's your responsibility to manage any travel disruption related to Covid-19, and pay any associated costs. This could include, if the Covid-19 situation changes in Australia, entering managed isolation or self-isolation when you return to New Zealand. If so, you will need to pay for your stay, with applications to waive payments considered on a case-by-case basis. If you need to travel to New Zealand urgently, you can apply for an emergency allocation. If you find yourself in lockdown while away from New Zealand, follow the instructions of local authorities.