Kiwis on holiday in Australia will be scrambling to get home as the entire trans-Tasman bubble has been suspended for eight weeks from tonight.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon announced that from 11.59pm today Australians will no longer be able to enter New Zealand quarantine-free. This will be in place for at least the next eight weeks, she said.
However, for New Zealanders there will be managed return flights offered from all states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test.
These flights will take place over the next seven days.
As well as a negative pre-departure test 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.
Anyone returning from Australia after the seven day period will need to enter an MIQ facility upon arrival.
"The Government is working closely with airlines to ensure there are flights available over this period, and extend it for a few days if necessary," a joint press release from Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins states.
The Government made the decision as NSW today recorded 136 cases of Covid and an additional death, 53 of those cases were infectious while in the community.
“There are now multiple outbreaks, and in differing stages of containment, that have forced three states into lockdown. The health risk to New Zealanders from these cases is increasing,” Ardern says.
“We’ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe."
Hipkins acknowledged the frustration that comes with any interruption to Trans-Tasman travel.
“Given the high level of transmissibility of 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,” Hipkins said.
“The worsening situation in New South Wales, seepage across state borders and our consistently cautious approach to prevent Covid-19 from entering the New Zealand community, we are confident this is the right action to take."
Ardern says the Government is keen for the bubble to resume once it's safe to do so.
“We do want the bubble to resume. We remain committed to it, and when I spoke to PM Scott Morrison this morning I conveyed this view directly. But it must be safe."
Following the news, Air New Zealand says bookings have opened managed return flights to allow Kiwis to return home from New South Wales from 28 July.
"These seats will be restricted to the number of spaces available in managed isolation facilities (MIQ) rooms provided by the New Zealand Government," Air NZ advises.
"Managed return flights from Sydney will be available from Wednesday 28 July and will operate to Auckland only."
Air New Zealand says customers should check their Travel Alerts page as the first step before booking.