Morning Briefing July 23: Will NZ pull plug on trans-Tasman travel?

The future of the trans-Tasman bubble is in doubt, the Government launches an 0800 number to help with vaccine bookings, and the Tokyo Olympics finally reach the start line.

A Melbourne street seen during lockdown - file photo. Source:

A complete pause of the trans-Tasman bubble could be on the cards after Cabinet held an emergency meeting late yesterday.

An official announcement is due this afternoon and is expected to be significant given how unusual it is for Cabinet to meet midweek and during recess. 

The travel bubble is currently already closed with NSW, South Australia, and Victoria.

NSW reported 124 new Covid cases yesterday, the highest daily number of the city’s current outbreak. Nearly 30 people are currently in intensive care, none of whom are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s health officials are confident they made the right decision in swiftly moving to another lockdown, with 26 new Covid cases recorded there yesterday – and almost all of those in isolation while infectious. 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker told Stuff the Government could decide to close the trans-Tasman bubble for quite some time today as Australia struggles with the extremely contagious Delta variant.

He says the biggest concern is getting the NSW outbreak under control otherwise “the future scenarios could be quite grim for Australia”. 

But whatever the Government’s decision today, the public’s confidence in the trans-Tasman bubble has likely already been dented.

1 NEWS Australia correspondent Andrew Macfarlane last week questioned whether anyone would want to go on holiday across the ditch right now, while Stuff political editor Luke Malpass opines the public’s enthusiasm for using the bubble “appears very deflated”

Sign up to get the Morning Briefing delivered direct to your inbox – here.

Govt launches vaccine hotline

A special helpline is rolling out today to help Kiwis book their Covid jab.

The dedicated 0800 number is designed to support those in Group 3 who are still yet to receive their invitation to make a vaccine appointment. This means anyone over 65, has an underlying health condition, is pregnant or is a household contact can use it.

It comes as the Government presses ahead with plans to vaccinate the general population despite just 20 per cent of those in the more vulnerable Group 3 receiving their first dose so far. 

Meanwhile, three members aboard a Covid-stricken ship moored in Bluff will now isolate on land after testing negative for the virus.

The Ministry of Health made the announcement last night after genomic sequencing showed nine of the infected crew on the Mattina have the Delta variant.

Two crew members will isolate in a Christchurch quarantine facility, while the captain will isolate in DHB accommodation close to the ship in case of an emergency. 

Tokyo Games reach start line

After months of debate over whether it should even be taking place, the Tokyo Olympics is now just hours away from officially opening.

Covid continues to cloud the state-of-emergency Games, with fresh concerns the Czech team’s charter flight into Tokyo has become a super spreader event and Guinea making the decision to pull all five of its athletes from competing.

Tonight’s opening ceremony has also hit a new hurdle with the show’s director being sacked due to a Holocaust joke he made in 1998.

And it may not be the Olympics, but Covid has rocked another major sporting event, with New Zealand and Australia officially withdrawing their teams from this year’s Rugby League World Cup in the UK.

Both countries have cited player welfare and safety concerns for their decision.

Sick leave set to double

Kiwi workers will be entitled to more sick leave from tomorrow.

The number of sick days employees can take will double from five to 10 as part of the Government’s push to encourage people to stay home when sick, especially during the pandemic.

The Holiday Amendment Bill, announced last November, brings New Zealand in line with Australia and the UK.

The law change comes as a recent survey shows more than 50 per cent of people choose to work from home when sick rather than use their leave. 

Killer's surprising admission

Constable Matthew Hunt’s killer has told a court the police officer asked him for help as he lay dying on an Auckland street last year.

Eli Epiha, who’s admitted murdering the constable but denies the attempted murder of his partner, says he thought about helping him “for a few seconds”

The judge is expected to sum up evidence today before the jury retires to make its decision.

Other news of note this morning:

- China says it can’t accept the second phase of the World Health Organization's study into the origins of Covid-19.

- District Health Boards could owe as much as $1.1 billion to staff in incorrect annual leave payments.

- The Government has launched a review into New Zealand's controversial asylum seeker rules

- News that Brisbane will host the 2032 Olympics has been overshadowed by an awkward exchange between two key figures behind the bid.

- The Buller community will receive a further $1 million in assistance following massive flooding in the region last weekend.

- Wellington’s stranded orca calf has been moved back into a sea pen for health reasons.

- The OlyWhites have made history with their first ever win in an Olympic match.

- And two New Zealand regions have been named in Time magazine's third annual list of Greatest Places.

And finally...


A professional cleaner in Australia has gone viral for demonstrating how our basic home cleaning methods are likely missing the mark – and those claims have just been backed up by microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles.

So, watch and learn how you’ve probably been cleaning your house wrong your entire life.