New Zealand has closed its border with Australia as the neighbouring country struggles to contain new Covid-19 outbreaks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday.
The so-called Trans-Tasman travel bubble started on April 19 and allowed Australians and New Zealanders to travel between the two countries without having to go into quarantine.
However, Ardern said the Delta variant “substantially changed the risk profile”, and the coronavirus is now widespread in Australia. As a result, the border between the two countries will be closed overnight from Thursday to Friday and will remain locked for at least eight weeks. The prime minister expects that period will give Australia enough time to get the current outbreaks under control.
“We want the travel bubble to resume,” Ardern said. “But it must be safe.” So the travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will remain.
New Zealand has about 5 million inhabitants. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the country has registered 2,499 infections and 26 deaths.
Australia has about 25 million inhabitants and has so far registered about 32,000 infections and 915 deaths. More than half of Australia’s population is currently in lockdown due to outbreaks in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.