Sydney, Australia, Jul 7 (efe-epa).- New Zealand’s government and flag carrier Air New Zealand announced Tuesday that they were temporarily suspending reservations for international flights on the airline to the country in order to manage the influx of returnees to quarantine facilities.
“We are seeing rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders coming home as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in the rest of the world,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.
“Air New Zealand has agreed to put a temporary hold on new bookings in the short term,” she said.
The flag carrier said in a statement that “(a)s well as the temporary hold on new bookings for the next three weeks, the airline is also looking at aligning daily arrivals with the capacity available at managed isolation facilities.”
Passengers who already have a reservation will be able to fly to New Zealand as long as there is availability in the quarantine centers, according to the measure that is expected to be also adopted by other airlines that operate in the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, New Zealand has recorded 1,186 confirmed cases, including 22 deaths.
It has been one of the most successful countries in the fight against the virus with no local transmissions for 67 days. All new infections have come from people arriving from abroad, and the country has 22 of these active cases in quarantine, according to the latest data Tuesday.
New Zealand closed its borders in March, although it allows the entry of special and repatriation flights, and maintains quarantine for all people entering its territory.
There are some 6,000 people housed in the 28 established quarantine centers managed by the military, with capacity being expanded to meet demand, the government said Tuesday, adding that over 26,400 people have been through managed isolation and quarantine since Mar. 26.
Minister Woods said the new measure is similar to that adopted in Australia, where a limit of 450 daily entries to Sydney International Airport was set Saturday after the suspension of flights in the city of Melbourne following an outbreak of the new coronavirus. EFE-EPA