The bubble bursts: New Zealand suspends quarantine-free travel from Australia.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, suspended quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand for at least 8 weeks. The suspension comes after over half of Australia is under lockdown due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The pause may separate family and friends, but Ms. Ardern believes it was the right decision.
The travel bubble was rare throughout the pandemic as many countries closed their borders. The bubble had been largely successful as the two countries had kept the virus at bay with strict protocols. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and has challenged the two countries. Slow vaccination programs have also stalled reopening of the Asia Pacific region as well. In Australia, New South Wales reported 136 new cases on Friday, the highest daily total since the pandemic began and declared the outbreak a national emergency. News Zealand has not reported any community transmission of the virus for more than 3 months. This is the first time New Zealand has suspended quarantine-free travel from all of Australia since the travel bubble was introduced in April. Previously, quarantine-free travel was only restricted from certain states in Australia experiencing outbreaks.