New Zealand-Australia travel bubble bursts

Angus Watson and Paul Devitt, CNNUpdated 23rd July 2021
Up next
See what life is like inside one of the world's coldest places
Radar animation shows near-miss between 2 passenger planes at JFK
4,000-year-old eggs discovered near ancient fire pit
Travel expert explains why you should book your dream vacation now
See countries around the world ring in 2023 with a bang
Watch passenger's enthusiastic reunion with his missing luggage
'Completely melted down': Buttigieg reacts to Southwest Airlines chaos
Sisters reunite with stranger who helped them 20 years ago
Arctic blast threatens holiday travel
See inside of Hawaiian Airlines plane rocked by turbulence
Sydney (CNN) — Quarantine-free travel from all Australian states and territories to New Zealand will be suspended, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on July 23.
The news comes as Australia continues to grapple with a Covid outbreak spreading through multiple states despite lockdowns.
"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.
From 11:59 p.m. Friday (7:59 a.m. EST), Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free for at least the next eight weeks.
Ardern said the decision was not taken lightly, but with "multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment" with three Australian states in lockdown, "the health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing."
The Australian state of New South Wales -- home to Sydney -- reported 136 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours, while Victoria -- home of Melbourne -- announced 14 new cases over that same period. South Australia reported one new case.
New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would ask the federal government for more Pfizer vaccine doses to be allocated to the state for use in Sydney's west and southwest, both of which are virus hotspots.
The quarantine-free trans-Tasman exchange (usually referred to as a travel bubble) kicked off between the two countries in April.
Roughly half of Australia's population, some 13 million people, is now under some form of lockdown as the country works to stem the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant amid a slow vaccination rollout.
The ever-changing regulations vary from state to state within Australia. People who violate lockdown rules -- including the man who sneaked out of hotel quarantine with a bed sheet and the two naked sunbathers who claimed they were on the run to escape a deer -- are subject to fines, arrest and even deportation.
Meanwhile, Australia recently halved its international arrivals cap. As of July 14, about 3,000 people per week are permitted to fly into Australia, down from about 6,000.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, there are some 34,000 Australians who have identified themselves as being stuck in a foreign country and unable to come home.