Quarantine Free Travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand is being suspended as the COVID-19 situation there worsens, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
From 11.59pm tonight, Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free. This will be in place for at least the next 8 weeks.
For the next seven days there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test. Additionally, those who have been in NSW will still have to go into MIQ for 14 days. And those who have been in Victoria must self-isolate upon return and have a negative Day 3 test.
The Government said it was working closely with airlines to ensure there were flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary.
The Prime Minister said the decision to suspend travel followed updated public health advice from officials on the growing number of cases and locations of interest across Australia in recent days and weeks.
“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing,” Ms Ardern said.
“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.
“Now is the time for a suspension to ensure New Zealanders aren’t put at undue risk from COVID-19 and to ensure we retain our hard won gains. Our team of five million has worked hard to put us in a strong position both health-wise and economically. We will not risk that.”
Minister Hipkins said the Government acknowledges the frustration and inconvenience that comes with any interruption to Trans-Tasman travel.
“Given the high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand,” Mr Hipkins said.
“The worsening situation in New South Wales, seepage across state borders and our consistently cautious approach to prevent COVID-19 from entering the New Zealand community, we are confident this is the right action to take.”
The Prime Minister 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 QFT settings while ensuring New Zealanders are safe.
“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,” Ms Ardern said.