The Greater Sydney outbreak of the CCP virus has burst Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand (NZ), with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing the travel pause on Friday.
The pause in quarantine free travel, which will begin at 11.59 p.m. in New Zealand (10 p.m. in Australia), will last eight weeks.
There will also be managed return flights for kiwis in Australia to return home over the next seven days.
“My strong message to every New Zealander in Australia right now who does not want to stay there long term is–come home,” Ardern said. “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.”
“We will keep flights coming in till we meet the demand for returning kiwis,” Ardern later wrote in a post on Facebook.
Only New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed onto the flights, and passengers must obtain a negative pre-departure test. Those returning from states other than Victoria and New South Wales will also be able to return without undergoing a 14-day quarantine.
Those who have returned from New South Wales will still need to go into quarantine on return. While those from Victoria will need a pre-departure COVID-19 test and self-isolate in NZ and return a negative test after three days.
She noted that the decision was based on public health advice about the growing number of coronavirus cases and community clusters across Australia.
“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown,” Ardern said. “The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing.”
She also noted that the Delta variant changed the risk profile with Australia and that it was the government’s response that New Zealand needed to be kept safe from the new COVID-19 strain.
The travel bubble between the two nations began on April 19 and has allowed more than 200,000 residents from both Australia and New Zealand to travel without the need for quarantine.
Ardern said that the NZ government hoped that after eight weeks, the outbreak in NSW would be back under control, and the bubble will be able to restart.
“We do want the bubble to resume, but it must be safe,” Ardern said.
The news of the eight-week pause comes after the Sydney outbreak was classified as a national emergency on Friday as the number of COVID-19 cases in Sydney rose again in the 24 hour period to 136, with one man dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Ardern also sent her heartfelt wishes that Australia made a speedy recovery from the outbreaks.