The New Zealand government has confirmed that its travel bubble with Australia will remain suspended until at least November 19, amid ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks in both countries.
Quarantine-free travel between the two countries was launched in April, but was suspended in July following a spike in cases in several Australian states.
The suspension had been scheduled to be lifted on September 24, but will now remain in place for a further eight week, with a review set to take place in mid to late November.
In a statement, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said:
“When QFT (quarantine-free travel) was established with Australia, both our countries had very few recent cases of COVID-19 community transmission, and a very similar elimination strategy. This has changed significantly leading to our decision to suspend QFT for a further eight weeks.
“Uncontrolled community transmission is still occurring in Australia, with case numbers continuing to steadily increase in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. A small number of cases also continue to appear intermittently in other states and territories. In New Zealand as well, we’re getting on top of an outbreak in Auckland.
“Protecting New Zealand from any possible further spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is our absolute priority. We have made great progress to contain our current outbreak and are working hard to ease restrictions next week. Reopening quarantine-free travel with Australia at this point could put those gains at risk.
Hipkins also confirmed that a third “red flight” from Australia to New Zealand had been planned “for those in emergency situations”, following two similar flights this month allowing stranded Kiwis to return home.
Arrivals into New Zealand need to spend 14 days in Managed Isolation and Quarantine accommodation (MIQ) at their own expense.
Last month the New Zealand government set out its plans “to reconnect New Zealanders to the world”, with borders remaining largely closed until the new year, allowing it “to vaccinate as many New Zealanders as possible and safely conduct a self-isolation trial for vaccinated New Zealanders in order to prepare for a phased resumption of quarantine-free travel”.