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Deadline for Kiwis to return from Australia may extend

The Government would consider extending the week-long deadline for Kiwis to return home from Australia if spaces on green flights become a problem, the Prime Minister says. 

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Jacinda Ardern says the Government wanted to shut down the risk posed by Australia's Covid outbreaks entirely. Source: Breakfast

Jacinda Ardern told Breakfast an extension of the 11.59pm July 30 deadline would be considered if it finds travellers are missing out on spaces on green flights. 

"Our commitment of course to New Zealanders is we will ensure there is enough capacity over the course of this period to bring everyone home," she said. 

"If we find people are missing out on bookings, there’s not enough space, we said we would consider extending if we need to.

"So that’s our commitment. We will get everyone home before the suspension kicks in, which is due to kick in on Friday, which would mean anyone thereafter would need to go into quarantine. The exception is New South Wales, where they’re already required."

Planes at Auckland Airport (file picture). Source: istock.com

Her words come after the Government announced on Friday the trans-Tasman bubble would be suspended for eight weeks. It will be reviewed in September.

Ardern said she did not know how many Kiwis needed to get home, but mentioned 21,000 people had left the country for Australia since the bubble opened on April 19 and had not yet returned.

"Our only way of knowing whether or not we’re going to meet demand is essentially by seeing whether or not there’s capacity left on flights."

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She described suspending the bubble as not being a difficult decision to make, as authorities were concerned about Australia's ability to contain its Covid-19 Delta variant outbreaks, which had leaked across borders.

Ardern said they wanted to shut down the risk posed by Australia entirely. 

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson made similar comments when he appeared on Q+A yesterday.

He told Jack Tame the Government "had to act" while New South Wales and other parts of Australia grappled with Delta. 

Robertson said the Government needed to see community transmission contained in Australia and wanted to be "comfortable" this was the case before any decision on reopening the bubble was made.

"We need to be confident it is contained and under control and obviously eight weeks gives us a window where we feel we can at least have another look at it."

Jacinda Ardern. Source: Breakfast