New Zealand To Partially Restart Travel ‘bubble’ With Australia

Passengers arrive from New Zealand after the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opened overnight, at Sydney Airport

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The New Zealand government said it will resume quarantine-free travel with parts of Australia next week as it lifted COVID-19 curbs in Wellington on Tuesday.

New Zealand halted its “travel bubble” with Australia on Saturday as an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant took root in Sydney and several other Australian cities.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said quarantine-free travel will resume with South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria states and the Australian Capital Territory from Monday, although authorities would continue to review the situation until then.

“The cabinet agreed that partially lifting the pause was the appropriate course of action,” Hipkins told a news conferene. Said. “The health advice is that the spread of COVID-19 in these parts of Australia has been contained at this point,” he said.

Travellers will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test pre-departure and must not have visited the blocked states and territories in recent days, Hipkins said.

The pause in travel with Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland states and the Northern Territory will be reviewed on Tuesday, he added, to allow test results to be returned and a further assessment of the situation.

The Sydney outbreak also led officials to impose social distancing restrictions in Wellington a week ago after an Australian tourist who visited the city tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home.

Hipkins said those measures will be eased from midnight on Tuesday.

New Zealand is among only a handful of countries that has contained the spread of COVID-19 within its borders. Its last community case was in February.

No new cases were reported on Tuesday. New Zealand has so far had 2,385 confirmed cases and 26 deaths linked to the virus.