New Zealand Pauses Australia Travel Bubble as New Cases Spike
New Zealand had paused its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks. Australia is currently experiencing a spike of new cases for the highly infectious Delta virus variant.
The travel bubble initially launched as test-free and quarantine-free corridor. But, New Zealand introduced a testing requirement earlier this month which made it more costly for Australians to visit.
New Zealand had already paused travel with the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The new pause, which kicked in this past Friday, applies to all of Australia.
“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Reuters. “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.”
About half of Australia’s population is now under some form of lockdown as the country works to contain the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant. Regulations vary from state to state within Australia.
New Zealand has not had a community-acquired case of Covid-19 since February. But, the country also has a low vaccination rate, which makes it even more important to prevent a new outbreak. As of last week, 15% of New Zealand’s 16+ population was fully vaccinated, and 22% have received a first dose.