New Zealand bursts Australia travel bubble

TD Guest Writer

Guest Writers are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the specific writer directly

For at least eight weeks, there will be no quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and any Australian state.

New Zealand has suspended travel with Australia for two months due to coronavirus outbreaks in at least three Australian states.

After a cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the decision.

The trans-Tasman bubble officially burst at midnight Friday but managed return flights will be available over the next week to allow New Zealanders to return home.

Those who live outside of Victoria and New South Wales will be able to return without being quarantined.

All passengers must have negative pre-departure COVID tests.

“My strong message to every New Zealander in Australia right now who does not want to stay there in the long term is to come home,” Ms Ardern said.

Australia is currently dealing with severe Delta strain COVID outbreaks in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, with a local case reported in Queensland.

Across the country, more than 14 million people are under lockdown. On Friday, the number of new local infections in NSW reached a peak of 136, prompting authorities to declare the situation a “national emergency.”

When asked about the pause, which could leave hundreds of New Zealanders stranded on this side of the Tasman, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was brief.

“The New Zealand government has been consistent in their policies, and we respect their policies and this is a virus that is affecting the world and we should not think that we are any different,” she said.

On Friday, Victoria reported 14 new local cases of the Delta variant, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 147. Authorities are refusing to speculate on whether the state-wide lockdown will be lifted on Tuesday as planned.

South Australia is on day three of a seven-day lockdown, with a Delta cluster of 15 infections.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble, which began on April 19, allowed Australians and New Zealanders to travel freely between the two countries.

Ms Ardern, on the other hand, stated that the highly contagious Delta variant had significantly altered the risk profile and that COVID-19 was now widespread in Australia.

“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved,” she said.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.”

The decision could have an impact on the upcoming Bledisloe Cup Tests between the All Blacks and the Wallabies, which are scheduled on both sides of the Tasman.

Ms Ardern stated that the Wallabies could use the seven-day window to travel to New Zealand after requesting an economic exemption.

“However, it must be in the seven-day window – we are not making exceptions outside of that. Everyone else has to go into quarantine.”

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