New Zealand pauses trans-Tasman bubble for at least two more months – jeopardizing Christmas holidays
- Ban on quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel bubble lasts until November
- Future travel from Australia to New Zealand will depend on Covid vaccination coverage
- NZ Deputy Prime Minister says Delta outbreak of NSW and VIC leads to extension of travel ban
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stopped the trans-Tasman bubble for 8 weeks in July
The ban on quarantine-free travelers from Australia in New Zealand will remain in effect until at least November, with future trans-Tasman trips dependent on vaccination rates.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the increased infectivity of the Delta strain of COVID-19, present in uncontrolled outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, has led to New Zealand’s decision to extend the travel ban.
“Decisions we make about all things COVID are guided by a health response,” Robertson said.
“We’re pushing for another eight weeks and will reassess.”
Ban on Australian travelers in New Zealand may remain until November, subject to vaccination coverage
The government of Jacinda Ardern stopped the trans-Tasman bubble for eight weeks in July.
The new eight-week extension from Friday will extend the travel break until November 19.
Robertson said New Zealand would be “extremely unlikely” to open its borders in November, suggesting reopening would depend on vaccination coverage.
“What we want to do is see where we are – countries as well as states in Australia … about vaccination coverage in eight weeks,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said New Zealand would be “extremely unlikely” to throw open its borders in November, as the fate lies in vaccination numbers.
“We want to get New Zealanders vaccinated and once we do that opens up a range of options.
‘The more people we vaccinate and the faster we get them vaccinated, the more options are open to us.’
The trans-Tasman bubble was first agreed in principle by the Australian and New Zealand governments in May 2020.
In October of that year, NSW became the first state to allow travelers across the Tasman Sea without going into quarantine.
New Zealand responded six months later in April, sparking the trans-Tasman bubble.
However, operating the bubble proved difficult.
New Zealand entry ban has been in effect since July after Jacina Ardern closed borders to Australians
Kiwi health officials have interrupted the travel arrangement several times in response to COVID-19 outbreaks in various parts of Australia.
The bubble was also unpopular in New Zealand.
While scenes of long-awaited family reunions stirred, most Kiwis feared the bubble would see the return of COVID-19 in the community.
This week, a poll by Labor pollsters found that 54 percent of New Zealanders viewed the opening as ‘wrong’.
The bubble was not popular in New Zealand. A poll of Labor’s opinion polls found that 54 percent of New Zealanders viewed the opening as ‘wrong’.
Only 29 percent of Kiwis – and only 24 percent of Labor voters – approved the bubble.
Ironically, the trans-Tasman bubble saw hundreds of thousands of travelers between Australia and New Zealand without spreading the coronavirus.
Instead, it was a leak from New Zealand’s border regime last month that sparked NZ’s first major outbreak in a year.
Instead of returning to quarantine-free travel, New Zealand will open thousands of spaces in its quarantine regime known as MIQ for Australian Kiwis to come home.
Flagship Air New Zealand said on Friday it will operate “a limited number of quarantine flights” over Tasman for avid travellers.
Those travelers must spend two weeks in quarantine and pay the fees according to the policies of each jurisdiction.
“We understand that this is still a very disturbing time for people trying to get home,” said Air NZ chief executive Leanne Geraghty.
“We are doing everything we can to get customers back to where they need to be as safely and quickly as possible.”