Coronavirus: Air NZ could divert flights from Melbourne as areas go back into lockdown


Air New Zealand may begin diverting flights away from Melbourne, as the state of Victoria goes back into lockdown to try to contain a second Covid-19 wave.

Cam Wallace, the chief commercial and customer officer for the airline, said on Tuesday evening the company was awaiting government confirmation for flights bringing returning Kiwis home via the Australian city.

“We are awaiting confirmation from the federal and state governments as to the status of [Air NZ] flights to Melbourne,” he wrote on social media.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has reportedly asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to divert all international flights from the state’s capital for two weeks.

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According to 7 News, he told media the diversion would allow the state to “reset the program under the supervision of Corrections Victoria”.

“I’ll have conversations with other state leaders to explain that and to thank them in advance for the extra load that they will carry,” Andrews said.

Air New Zealand is waiting to hear from Australia's federal and state governments whether it needs to divert flights to Melbourne.

iStock

Air New Zealand is waiting to hear from Australia’s federal and state governments whether it needs to divert flights to Melbourne.

Coronavirus hot spots in Melbourne’s inner north and west have been put into lockdown in an effort to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease in Victoria.

Victoria recorded 64 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, capping a fortnight of consecutive double-digit increases.

A person receives a Covid-19 swab test at a coronavirus pop-up testing facility in a north Melbourne suburb last week.

James Ross/AAP

A person receives a Covid-19 swab test at a coronavirus pop-up testing facility in a north Melbourne suburb last week.

The majority of cases have been from community transmission, prompting the state’s Premier Daniel Andrews to order a lockdown of hot spot postcodes from 11.59pm on Wednesday until at least July 29.

They include the suburbs of Ascot Vale, Broadmeadows, Craigieburn and Fawkner.

Much like earlier stage three restrictions, people in these postcodes will only be able to leave their homes for four reasons: for care or caregiving, to exercise, to purchase food and other essential items, or to go to work or school.

“We are all in this together and this is going to be deeply disruptive for those 10 postcodes. It will be deeply painful and damaging for those businesses involved,” Andrews said on Tuesday.

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“This is the public health advice. This is what we must do now. If we do not do this now, then I won’t be locking down 10 postcodes, I will be locking down all postcodes.”

He said police would be actively enforcing the suburban lockdown.

“They will be patrolling throughout these communities and if people are out of their home, then they will be politely asked ‘why are you out of your home’, and if you are out of your home for anything other than a permitted reason, then financial penalties apply,” he said.

He added main transport corridors “in and out of these suburbs will be the subject of booze bus-type checks”.

The businesses and facilities in these areas that have been able to recently reopen, including beauty parlours, gyms, libraries and swimming pools, will again be closed.

Cafes and restaurants will only be open for takeaway and delivery.

All affected businesses will be given a A$5000 ($5354) grant or a payroll tax refund.

Andrews said almost 17,500 tests were performed in the hot spot areas on Monday, bringing the total number of tests in the past three days to more than 93,000.

The suburbs with the highest number of new cases in the state are Broadmeadows, Fawkner and Auburn Vale.

International flights into Victoria will also be diverted to other states and an inquiry will be held into the hotel quarantine process.

Andrews said the flight diversion would last for a fortnight.

“I will have conversations with other state leaders to explain that and to thank them in advance of the extra load that they will carry,” Andrews said.

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