Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel to remain suspended for another 8 weeks due to Delta outbreaks

2021-09-17 04:05:47 GMT2021-09-17 12:05:47(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WELLINGTON, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) between New Zealand and Australia has been extended for another eight weeks, given the current Delta outbreaks, New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Friday.

"When QFT was established with Australia, both our countries had very few recent cases of COVID-19 community transmission, and a very similar elimination strategy. This has changed significantly leading to our decision to suspend QFT for a further eight weeks," Hipkins said in a statement.

Uncontrolled community transmission is still occurring in Australia, with case numbers continuing to steadily increase in Australia's New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. A small number of cases also continued to appear intermittently in other states and territories, he said, adding New Zealand is also "getting on top of" an outbreak in Auckland, the country's largest city.

Protecting New Zealand from any possible further spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is an "absolute priority," the minister said, adding reopening quarantine-free travel with Australia at this point could put those gains at risk.

Hipkins said people coming from Australia should book rooms in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities in advance, which will be released again on Monday.

The QFT from Australia to New Zealand was suspended on July 23, and the suspension was originally due to end on Sept. 24. Enditem