New Zealand suspends quarantine-free travel with Australia
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Quarantine free travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand will be suspended from 11.59 p.m. on Friday night over Covid-19 concerns.
According to the new measure, Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free, reports Xinhua news agency.
This will be in place for at least the next eight weeks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while addressing a press conference on Friday.
For the next seven days there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test, Ardern said.
Additionally, those who have been in Australia's New South Wales will still have to go into managed isolation and quarantine facilities for 14 days, while those who have been in Victoria must self-isolate upon return and have a negative Day 3 test, she said.
The New Zealand government is working closely with airlines to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary, according to the Prime Minster.
The decision to suspend travel follows updated public health advice from officials on the growing number of cases and locations of interest across Australia in recent days and weeks, she said.
"There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing," Ardern said.
"We've always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe."
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the New Zealand government acknowledges the frustration and inconvenience that comes with any interruption to Trans-Tasman travel.
"Given the high level of transmissibility of the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand," Hipkins said.
Trans-Tasman travel resumed in April after New Zealand closed its borders since the start of the pandemic early last year.