Entire trans-Tasman travel bubble suspended for eight weeks

The entire trans-Tasman bubble has been suspended for at least eight weeks from tonight, as Covid-19 cases surge in New South Wales and other parts of Australia grapple with the Delta variant. 

The bubble will be shut from 11.59pm tonight. It will be reassessed after eight weeks.

Kiwis and normal New Zealand residents will be able to access green flights to get home for a week, however extra restrictions are in place for NSW and Victoria, and everyone must show a negative pre-departure test. 

A suspension of travel is a step up from a pause on the bubble - it is a level the Government has not implemented until today. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement from Auckland this afternoon. 

"Once we have exhausted the demand for Kiwis to return, then the suspension of travel will be fully implemented," Ardern said. 

"That means all incoming travellers from Australia will need to have a spot in managed isolation."

Ardern urged the public to not travel to Australia over the next eight weeks.

"For the next seven days there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test," Ardern said. 

"Additionally, those who have been in NSW will still have to go into MIQ for 14 days. And those who have been in Victoria must self-isolate upon return and have a negative Day 3 test."

Ardern said there was "no doubt the movement of people can complicate recovery". 

"Delta variant has materially changed the risk profile." 

"Covid has changed, so we must."

When asked if she did not trust Australia to handle outbreaks, Ardern said, "we don't trust Covid".

"There is very clearly a situation where Delta has managed to move through the community."

New Zealand was already closed off to three states, NSW, SA and Victoria. 

It is the second time since the bubble opened that New Zealand has closed itself off to the whole country, the last began almost a month ago. 

It comes after Cabinet met yesterday afternoon amid the Covid crisis in Australia. 

Yesterday, Jacinda Ardern's office told 1 NEWS the virtual meeting had been planned for several days. Cabinet generally meets on Mondays, or in exceptional circumstances, but not usually in the middle of a week when Parliament is not sitting. 

It comes after Covid cases continue to climb in NSW, despite the state having been in lockdown for weeks. 

NSW had 136 new cases today, the highest daily number since the outbreak began in Sydney in mid-June. The situation is now classed as a 'national emergency' and there had been an additional death. 

Victoria recorded 14 new local Covid-19 cases, all linked to the current outbreak. 

Meanwhile, South Australia’s Covid-19 cluster grew from six to 12 and Queensland had one new community case, a flight attendant linked to the NSW outbreak.