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New Zealand Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins. Source: Stuff.co.nz
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  • New Zealand authorities race to track the movements of a Sydney traveller who tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Wellington
  • The traveller is believed to have contracted the virus before arriving in Wellington, meaning they were potentially infectious throughout the trip
  • Wellington enters level two restrictions today, meaning there are 100-person limits on gatherings and people must be seated hospitality venues
  • Travel outside of Wellington is still permitted, but health authorities have asked people to observe the level two rules even when elsewhere in the country
  • So far, Wellington has not gone into lockdown, but tighter restrictions are still on the cards

A Wellington lockdown is on the cards for New Zealand as health authorities race to track the movements of a Sydney tourist who tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to Australia.

New Zealand Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins this week placed a three-day pause on quarantine-free travel between New South Wales and New Zealand — before the traveller tested positive. Now, authorities are helping investigate the source of the infection and the Sydney cluster.

Minister Hipkins said the traveller is believed to have contracted the virus before touching down in Wellington, meaning they were potentially infectious throughout their visit.

The travel-bubble pause is currently slated to end on Thursday, though New Zealand authorities said it will be reviewed again before it is lifted.

The New Zealand Health Department has released a list locations of interest around Wellington, with anyone who was in these areas at specified times asked to self-isolate and get tested for the coronavirus.

These locations include a pharmacy, a pub, and New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa.

Four close contacts have already been identified and are isolating.

“Precautionary” restrictions

New Zealand health authorities have today raised the alert level in Wellington to level two, meaning social distancing rules will come into effect in the area at 6:00 pm local time.

Under the restrictions, masks will be mandatory on public transport and encouraged anywhere else people feel they may be necessary. Gatherings are limited to 100 people, and while hospitality venues are open, attendees must be seated.

These restrictions are expected to last until Sunday at the earliest. Minister Hipkins said he hopes Wellington can avoid a lockdown if people follow the precautionary measures.

Travel from Wellington to other parts of New Zealand is currently not restricted, but the minister asked people to follow the Wellington rules even when elsewhere in the country.

So far, there have been no positive community cases in New Zealand.

If the Sydney traveller’s infection did spread to Wellington, it would break New Zealand’s streak of over 100 days without any community spread.

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