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New Zealand Pauses Australia Travel Bubble

Rising COVID-19 cases in several Australian states forced travel suspension “for at least eight weeks”

With the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia, officials in New Zealand have announced the suspension of the travel bubble between the two countries “for at least the next eight weeks.”

New Zealand had announced the quarantine-free travel corridor in April, but increasing Australia’s increase in cases led to a pause in June on travel to several Australian states suspended including New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

Now the New Zealand government has suspended quarantine-free travel rules for the next two months or more.

“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown,” said Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, in a statement.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe,” Ardern said. “We do want the bubble to resume. We remain committed to it, and when I spoke to PM Scott Morrison this morning I conveyed this view directly. But it must be safe.”

Government officials said the suspension would “give Australia time to manage its current outbreaks, while giving New Zealand health officials the time to monitor the situation, assess travel developments in other countries and consider different quarantine-free travel settings while ensuring New Zealanders are safe.”

Beginning July 23, the government announced that “there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test,” and that it was working with airlines “to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary.”

In addition, the government announcement cautioned returning New Zealanders, “Those who have been in NSW will still have to go into MIQ (Managed isolation Quarantine) for 14 days. And those who have been in Victoria must self-isolate upon return and have a negative Day 3 test.”