New Zealand”s government announced on Friday that it is suspending all quarantine-free travel from Australia for eight weeks as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 infections.
Wellington has already closed the travel corridor with three Australian states — New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia – but the measure is now extended to the entire nation and will come into force at midnight on Friday.
“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe,” the government said in a statement.
The suspension, it added, would give Australia “time to manage the current outbreaks” and allow New Zealand officials to monitor the situation and assess travel developments in other countries.
The country of 4.9 million reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
“The government remains committed to resuming quarantine-free travel with Australia,” it also said.
Half of Australia’s 26 million population is currently under lockdown. Sydney has been locked down for a month. The delta variant cluster has spread from Sydney to Victoria and South Australia states which are also locked down.
Meanwhile, New South Wales state recorded 136 new infections on Friday — its highest daily tally since the outbreak began in mid-June.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on the federal government to provide more vaccines for the worst-effected suburbs in Sydney’s west and south.
Only 15% of adult Australians are fully vaccinated. While there are ample supplies of locally-manufactured AstraZeneca, many are concerned about the slight risk of blood clots associated with that vaccine and demanding Pfizer, the only alternative registered in Australia.