Amid ongoing virus outbreaks on either side, New Zealand on Friday suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia for eight more weeks.
Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s COVID-19 response minister, said the suspension enforced since late July has been extended due to the Delta surges in the two countries.
“Protecting New Zealand from any possible further spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is our absolute priority,” he said in a statement, adding that conditions have changed significantly since quarantine-free travel was first established with Australia in April.
Australia remains much worse off than New Zealand, with its daily case figures well above 1,000.
New Zealand reported 16 more infections over the past day, raising the total in the fresh outbreak since August to 1,007, the latest data showed.
The country’s overall caseload stands at 4,014, including 27 deaths.
"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," Hipkins said.
"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 those gains at risk."
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid