The Prime Minister of New Zealand announced on Friday that the Trans-Tasman travel bubble that has already burst few times would be temporarily halted for eight weeks from midnight.
New Zealanders have 7-days to return back to their home country from Australia with a negative Covid-19 test, but without the two weeks quarantine, unless they are returning from NSW from where quarantine requirement is in place.
You can access New Zealand’s page for Covid-19 and travel here.
Current Infection Rates in Australia & New Zealand:
Announcement from the New Zealand Government
Quarantine Free Travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand is being suspended as the Covid situation there worsens, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
From 11.59pm today 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 is working closely with airlines to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary.
The decision to suspend travel follows 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,” Jacinda 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,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Chris 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,” Chris 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,” Chris Hipkins said.
The suspension will 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,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Notes for editors
Managed return green flights, without a requirement to enter MIQ, will be facilitated for travelers in low-medium risk states from 11.59pm on Friday 23 July to 11:59pm on Friday 30th July initially.
Travellers from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, ACT and Norfolk Island, can come home on a green flight subject to the below public health criteria:
- A negative pre-departure test, taken within 72-hours of their intended travel to New Zealand.
- Have not been in a location of interest in the past 14 days.
- Are not symptomatic at the time of travel.
- Are not a contact of a COVID-19 case.
Eligible people from Victoria or travellers from other states/territories who have been in Victoria can return provided they also:
- Adhere to lockdown measures in Victoria
- Self-isolate upon return to New Zealand and get a test at day 3
- Travel to the airport wearing facemasks and by safe travel, ie, not public transport.
Eligible people from New South Wales will continue to return on existing managed return flights. Returnees on these flights will be required to enter a managed isolation facility for at least 14 days on arrival in New Zealand.
Travel on all such flights will be limited to:
- New Zealand citizens and holders of residence class visas;
- Holders of temporary visas and Australian citizens, who last departed New Zealand after 5 April 2021;
- Holders of current permanent residence visas (including a resident return visa) issued by the Government of Australia who last departed New Zealand after 5 April 2021; and
- Relevant family members of people listed in the above categories. (Relevant family member means: a spouse, civil union partner, or de facto partner, a dependent child; or a parent of a dependent child. Parent, in relation to a dependent child, means a person on whom the child is dependant)
All travellers are asked to monitor themselves closely for any COVID-19 symptoms after arrival in the country and to diligently keep contact tracing records using the NZ COVID Tracer app or another form of diary.
Likewise, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home, get tested, and remain in isolation until a negative test result is returned.
For more information, visit Unite Against COVID-19: https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/quarantine-free-travel/australia/
At least the Trans-Tasman travel bubble is occasionally open, unlike the proposed one between Hong Kong and Singapore that was rescheduled twice or thrice before being entirely scrapped.
It is tough for New Zealand and Australia to reopen for international travel if their goal is to eradicate Covid-19 rather than learning to live with it after vaccinating the population that is progressing slowly compared to other developed nations.
The strategy of eradication was likely correct before therapies and vaccines were available, however. How could these two countries ever open if their goal is to have no Covid-19 cases?