When quarantine-free travel was established with Australia, both 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 quarantine-free travel for a further 8 weeks.
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 (ACT). A small number of cases also continues to appear intermittently in other states and territories. In New Zealand as well, we’re getting on top of an outbreak in Auckland.
Protecting New Zealand from any possible further spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is the Government's absolute priority. We have made great progress to contain our current outbreak and are working hard to ease restrictions next week. Reopening quarantine-free travel with Australia at this point could put this at risk.
The decision is critical to provide clarity for people in Australia to make informed decisions about their ability to shelter in place in the longer-term, or whether to seek return flights and book space in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
One of the reasons we established quarantine-free travel with Australia was because our countries share so many close connections. The Government acknowledges that this further suspension will be disappointing for many people.
Travellers from Australia can book MIQ from Monday 20 September
People in Australia can participate in the MIQ room release on Monday 20 September for rooms in October and November. Travellers from Australia need to visit the MIQ website to find out how to participate. There will be a second room release later in the month.
Flight planned for 26 September for those in emergency situations
A third red flight from Australia to New Zealand is planned for those in emergency situations. This follows the 2 red flights that returned stranded Kiwis home to New Zealand on 5 and 15 September.
Travellers will need to cover the costs of flights and MIQ. A pre-departure test from an accredited laboratory, also at the traveller’s cost, will be required within 72 hours of travel.
When the Government will review quarantine-free travel settings
The Government will review this decision in mid-to-late November to give more time for our vaccination rates to climb higher. It will be heavily influenced by the policies we are working on for the Reconnecting New Zealand strategy.
This recognises that the quarantine-free travel was established on the basis that there was little to no community transmission in Australia, and that future settings are likely to change.
The start of a maritime quarantine-free travel system with Australia will be paused and reconsidered in 2022.
Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand was suspended on Friday 23 July, and the suspension was due to end on 24 September.