COVID-19: New Zealand-Australia travel bubble closed until at least mid November

The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) between Australia and New Zealand has been extended by a further eight weeks.

Trans-Tasman QFT was halted on July 23 and the suspension was due to end on September 24.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the decision to extend the suspension was brought forward to enable Kiwis still in Australia to access the first tranche of around 3000 rooms in MIQ which are being released on Monday morning

There will be a second release later in the month.

"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.

"Uncontrolled community transmission is still occurring in Australia, with case numbers continuing to steadily increase in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. A small number of cases also continue to appear intermittently in other states and territories. 

"One of the reasons we established QFT with Australia was because our countries share so many close connections, and I acknowledge that this further suspension will be disappointing for many people."

Those who book on red flights to New Zealand will need to cover the costs of flights and their MIQ stay. They will also need a negative pre-departure test from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours of travel.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble's status will be reviewed in mid to late November to allow for more people to get vaccinated.

The start of a maritime QFT system with Australia will be reconsidered in 2022.