New Zealand's One-Way Travel Bubble with Australia Has Been Paused for Three More Days
The suspension of quarantine-free travel from NZ to Australia first came in earlier this week — and it's being extended following concerns over the recent Auckland outbreak.
New Zealanders wanting to enter Australia without quarantining will have to hold off a little longer on their travel plans, after the Australian Government extended the existing pause on the current one-way trans-Tasman travel bubble. New Zealand's previous quarantine-free border arrangements were halted on Monday, January 25 after a NZ resident tested positive to the new, more transmissible B1351 variant of COVID-19. The bubble was scheduled to resume today, Thursday, January 26, after a 72-hour pause; however, the suspension will now continue for another three days.
As announced in a statement by Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt, the pause will now run through until 2pm, Sunday, January 31, in line with the recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer. The latest suspension comes after two more New Zealanders tested positive to COVID-19 in recent days, with both linked to the same Auckland hotel as the initial case.
The bubble suspension will give health authorities a chance to do further digging and gather test results for all the close contacts linked to the outbreak. In a press conference, Australia's Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, also advised that there are concerns that a small group of people who had stayed at the Auckland hotel at the same time as the other cases have since travelled to Australia under the previous quarantine-free arrangement. They flew into the country before the bubble was paused on Monday, and are now being contacted by local health authorities.
Anyone who has entered Australia from NZ since January 9 is also encouraged to get a COVID-19 test immediately, and go into self-isolation until results are received.
The one-way travel bubble from NZ to Australia was introduced in mid-October last year, initially allowing New Zealanders to travel into certain Australian states without quarantine, before being expanded to include access to most of the country. It was also hoped that a reciprocal arrangement wouldn't be far off, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in December that the NZ Cabinet had agreed to establishing a two-way bubble from early 2021. It's unknown what impact the recent outbreak will have on those plans.
To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, 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 January 28, 2021 by Libby Curran