New Zealand has extended its suspension of quarantine-free travel from Australia, raising doubts on the future of the trans-Tasman bubble.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson announced New Zealand would next review the trans-Tasman bubble’s viability in mid-November.
Mr Robertson said the infectious nature of the Delta variant, which is present in uncontained outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, was behind the decision.
“Decisions we make about everything COVID are led by a health response,” Mr Robertson said.
“We are pushing out for another eight weeks and will re-assess.”
New Zealand is also battling a Delta outbreak, with 11 more community cases on Friday. All were in Auckland, which still remains under tough virus rules.
Despite the ongoing outbreak, which emerged in Auckland’s northern suburbs a month ago, NZ health officials remain confident they can return to COVID zero.
The trans-Tasman travel bubble was established in April when New Zealand opened its border to visitors from Australia, some six months after Australian did so.
New Zealand paused the travel corridor several times due to coronavirus outbreaks in various Australian states.
In mid-July, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an eight-week severing of the link as NSW’s Delta outbreak grew.
Friday’s announcement means quarantine-free travel will be on hold another eight weeks. It will next be reviewed in mid-November.
Ms Ardern’s government will work with national carrier Air New Zealand to provide flights from Australia to New Zealand in the next two months.
Those travellers will be required to spend two weeks in quarantine.