WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for at least eight weeks on Friday due to a growing COVID-19 cluster in Sydney.
New Zealand recently put quarantine restrictions on travelers from the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, where bans have been put in place to contain delta variant clusters.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said quarantine-free travel will be suspended from 11:59 p.m. New Zealand time from anywhere in Australia.
Ardern said she hoped to have any New Zealanders wanting to fly home from Australia on managed flights within a week.
The travel bubble has existed since April and has given both countries their only quarantine-free international flights.
Both Australia and New Zealand are among the most successful in the world at containing coronavirus outbreaks. But Sydney is failing to contain a cluster of the highly contagious Delta variant that has spread across the country.
On Friday, the state of New South Wales declared a state of emergency over the Sydney outbreak. Authorities reported one death and 136 new infections in the past 24 hours, the largest daily increase since the outbreak began in mid-June.