New Zealand is fully closing the trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia for at least three days following the worsening COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney and other areas of Australia.
It says quarantine free travel from all Australian states and territories will be paused until 11.59pm (NZT) on Tuesday, June 29.
NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the decision will be reviewed on Monday.
He said New Zealand would consider implementing of a range of measures to make the bubble safer, such as pre-departure testing for all flights from Australia.
“I acknowledge the frustration and inconvenience that comes with this pause, but given the high level of transmissibility of what appears to be the Delta variant, and the fact that there are now multiple community clusters, it is the right thing to do to keep COVID-19 out of New Zealand,” Mr Hipkins said in a statement on Saturday night
More than five million people in Sydney and its surrounds have gone into a 14-day lockdown as health authorities try to regain control of a coronavirus outbreak that has ballooned to 80 cases.
NZ officials had already closed the trans-Tasman bubble to NSW until July 7 at the earliest.
Since opening in mid-April, the bubble has been partially closed for more than half the time, but this is the first full closure.
On Friday, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern postponed a visit to Australia next month due to the worsening COVID environment.
Ms Ardern was to visit a number of states – including NSW – in the first week of July on a trade and tourism effort.
She has not left New Zealand since the onset of COVID-19.
Queensland and Victorian leaders have told residents not to travel to NSW and warning of the ramifications of trying to cross their borders after being in a hotspot.
Victoria have posted extra police at the border and travellers run the risk of being turned around or fined up to $5000.
Tasmania has closed its border to regions affected by the lockdown, and Western Australia has reintroduced a “hard border” with the entire state of NSW.
Speculation is increasing one of the nation’s premier sporting events, State of Origin, will have to be rescheduled or relocated, with game three between NSW and Queensland due to be played in Sydney on July 14.
In the Northern Territory, a fresh positive case in a worker at a mine 540km northwest of Alice Springs has caused it to shut down and forced hundreds of workers into isolation.
More than 1600 people in three states have been ordered into isolation after he tested positive to the coronavirus at the Newmont-owned Granites gold mine in the Tanami desert.