New Zealand shuts Australia travel bubble as COVID-19 cases surge

New Zealand is shutting down the quarantine free travel bubble with Australia for a period of two months as COVID-19 cases surge in Sydney. 

The country had already paused travel with the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

At a press briefing on Friday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said because of the Delta variant there was “greater risk now … than when we opened the travel bubble”. She further added, “Covid has changed and so must we”.

The government “remains committed” to the travel bubble and hoped it would reopen at some stage. 

Also read | Sydney outbreak a ‘national emergency’ as COVID-19 cases surge

Sydney’s fast-growing COVID-19 outbreak has become a “national emergency,” said state leaders as Australia’s largest city reported another record number of new infections.

“We have an obligation on behalf of the nation to contain the virus,” said New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian. “There is no doubt that the numbers are not going in the right direction.” 

With the virus “spreading everywhere” and half the country’s 25 million people currently in lockdown, Berejiklian said the government must “refocus” its glacial vaccine rollout. 

Just 12 per cent of Australians have been fully vaccinated.