Australia-New Zealand travel bubble has burst | County Chief of St George and Sutherland
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern burst the bubble of trans-Tasman travel with Australia and urged the Kiwis to return home.
Travel arrangements without quarantine will be suspended for at least eight weeks starting at 10 p.m. AEST on Friday.
There will be managed return flights from all Australian states and territories over the next seven days.
“My strong message to all New Zealanders in Australia right now who don’t want to stay there long term is to come home,” Ms. Ardern said.
The grace period will be extended by a few days if necessary.
Only New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed to board flights and passengers will be required to test negative before departure.
Those outside Victoria and NSW will be able to return without going through quarantine.
However, anyone who has been in NSW will need to be quarantined for 14 days upon return, while those coming from Victoria are to self-isolate and test negative on day three.
Ms Ardern said the decision was based on public health advice regarding the growing number of coronavirus cases and community clusters across Australia.
“There are now several outbreaks, and in different stages of containment, that have forced three states to shut down,” Ms. Ardern said.
“The risk to the health of New Zealanders from these cases is increasing.”
Australia is grappling with severe coronavirus outbreaks in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, with a locally acquired case also recorded in Queensland.
More than 14 million people are confined across the country.
“We have always said that our response will evolve as the virus evolves,” Ms. Ardern said.
“It was not a decision we took lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.”
The travel bubble began on April 19 and allowed Australians and New Zealanders to move between the two countries without the need for quarantine.
More than 300,000 people have taken advantage of the travel arrangements without quarantine.
But Ms Ardern said the highly contagious Delta variant had changed the risk profile and she was determined to keep the coronavirus out of New Zealand.
The decision will impact the upcoming Bledisloe Cup tests between the All Blacks and the Wallabies, with games scheduled on both sides of the divide.
Ms Ardern said the Wallabies could use the seven-day window to travel to New Zealand for testing after requesting an exemption for economic reasons.
“However, it has to be within the seven day window, we are not making any exceptions outside of that. Everyone has to go into quarantine.”
The travel suspension will be reviewed in September.
“We want the bubble to resume, but it has to be safe,” Ms Ardern said.
Associated Australian Press