Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia and New Zealand Has Been Paused
New Zealand has suspended the trans-Tasman bubble until at least Tuesday, June 29 due to the growing number of locally acquired COVID-19 cases across Australia.
Two months ago, Australia and New Zealand finally introduced the trans-Tasman bubble, which allows folks from either country to travel across the ditch without needing to go into quarantine upon arrival. During that time, the arrangement has been suspended on several occasions on a state-by-state basis — including during Victoria's recent lockdown, and in response to New South Wales' current outbreak — and now, with COVID-19 cases growing across Australia, NZ has put a pause on the bubble nationwide.
Announced on Saturday, June 26 and in effect until at least 11.59pm NZ time (9.59pm AEST) on Tuesday, June 29, the suspension applies to quarantine-free travel from all Aussie states and territories. The initial timeframe will span 72 hours, which is NZ's usual first step. Whether it extends that period or not will obviously depend on coronavirus case numbers.
"There are now multiple cases and outbreaks in Australia in differing stages of containment and the health risk for New Zealand in response to these cases is increasing," said NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in a statement. "As a result, the Government has taken the precautionary step of temporarily widening the current pause with New South Wales to include all of Australia."
When NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the two-way bubble between Australia and New Zealand back in April, she noted that it could and would be paused if and when outbreaks occur — so none of the suspensions so far, including this one, are surprising.
The NZ Government advised that this current pause will not only give it "time to get a better understanding of the developing situation," but will also enable it "to consider the potential implementation of a range of measures to make the bubble safer, such as the introduction of pre-departure testing for all flights from Australia to New Zealand."
At the moment, Sydney's Bondi cluster keeps growing, with 112 locally acquired cases reported as at 8pm on Saturday, June 26. The Greater Sydney area is currently in a two-week lockdown, while positive cases — some linked, some not — have also been reported in Queensland, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Whether you're an Australian on holiday in NZ or a New Zealander who has recently returned from across the ditch, anyone now in NZ who has been in Australia since Friday, June 21 is asked to monitor their health, and keep an eye on the exposure sites lists in various Australian states — such as NSW, Victoria, Queensland, the NT and WA. You're also requested to contact NZ's Healthline if you experience any symptoms.
To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website. To find out more about the virus and travel restrictions in New Zealand, head over to the NZ Government's COVID-19 hub.
Published on June 28, 2021 by Sarah Ward