NZ to Pause Quarantine-Free Travel Bubble With Victoria, Australia

May 25, 2021 Updated: May 26, 2021

New Zealand has temporarily suspended its travel bubble with the Australia’s state of Victoria while the source of the new Melbourne cases in the last two days are investigated.

The travel ban began on Tuesday at 8 p.m. (6 p.m. AEST) and will be in place for at least 72 hours.

“While the case announced today is not unexpected as a contact of a case announced yesterday, New Zealand officials have assessed that the most cautious option is to pause the travel bubble with Victoria as there are still several unknowns with the outbreak,” NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

Hipkins said the government understood the disruption it would cause to passengers looking to travel during the ban. However, they considered it the correct call given the situation.

The latest COVID-19 cases are all connected to Whittlesea City, with 11 new cases reported in the last 24 hours. Victorian health officials have said they believe there could be more cases to come.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will travel to New Zealand to meet Prime Minister Jacinda Arden in Queenstown on May 30. They will be accompanied by their partners.

Scott Morrison And Jacinda Ardern Attend Australia-New Zealand Leaders' Meeting
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (R) speak to media at a press conference held at Admiralty House in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 28, 2020. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

It will mark the first overseas trip of the year for Morrison and the first trip to New Zealand in over a year. The two leaders last met in Sydney in late February, around the time the first COVID-19 case in New Zealand was detected.

Ardern said the visit would be a good opportunity to celebrate the resumption of two-way quarantine free travel with their “trans-Tasman cousins.”

“I’m looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Morrison back to New Zealand following a difficult year for both our countries through the pandemic,” Ardern said. “Our relationship with Australia is our closest and most important, and this has never been more evident than in these trying times for the world.”

“Discussions will centre on how Australia and New Zealand will meet the shared challenges we face. The key focus of the meeting will, of course, be our COVID-19 recovery as well as how we continue working together on key regional and security issues.”