The New Zealand-Australia trans Tasman travel bubble has been suspended “for at least the next eight weeks”, as the number of Covid-19 cases in Australia rises.
Quarantine-free travel between the two countries was launched in April, but had already been paused with several Australian states earlier this month including New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
The New Zealand government said that “For the next seven days [from July 23] there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test”.
“Additionally, those who have been in NSW will still have to go into MIQ (Managed isolation Quarantine) for 14 days. And those who have been in Victoria must self-isolate upon return and have a negative Day 3 test.”
The government said that it was working with airlines “to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary”.
It said that the suspension would “give Australia time to manage its current outbreaks, while giving New Zealand health officials the time to monitor the situation, assess travel developments in other countries and consider different quarantine-free travel settings while ensuring New Zealanders are safe”.
Announcing the move New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said:
“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing.
“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.
“Now is the time for a suspension to ensure New Zealanders aren’t put at undue risk from Covid-19 and to ensure we retain our hard won gains. Our team of five million has worked hard to put us in a strong position both health-wise and economically. We will not risk that.
“We do want the bubble to resume. We remain committed to it, and when I spoke to PM Scott Morrison this morning I conveyed this view directly. But it must be safe.”