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Australia suspends New Zealand travel bubble for at least 72 hours


The Australian government has suspended the quarantine free travel arrangement for New Zealand’s passengers for at least 72 hours, the suspension was in order to reduce the risk of new variant of the COVID-19 virus entering the community.

Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced the decision on Monday afternoon.

“The changes come into effect as I say immediately,’’ Hunt said in a news conference in Canberra.

It means all green safe travel zone passengers from New Zealand currently en route to Australia, or with planned travel to Australia in the next 72 hours will be required to enter mandatory hotel quarantine for up to 14 days on arrival or take other action based on the requirements of the relevant state and territory governments.

The New Zealand government on Sunday announced a case of COVID-19 detected in the community, which on Monday morning was confirmed as an infection of the new variant of COVID-19.

Michael Kidd, acting Australian chief medical officer said in the same press conference on Monday that the person was infected with one of the COVID-19 variants of concern, the B1351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa in October.

“This new variant is more transmissible and presents a heightened level of risk,’’ said Kidd.

In October 2020, the Australian government opened its borders to travelers from New Zealand.

Allowing New Zealanders who have not been in an area designated as the COVID-19 hotspot in the preceding 14 days to travel quarantine-free to Australia.