New Zealand suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia

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AUCKLAND: New Zealand has suspended quarantine-free travel with Australia for a further 8 weeks, extending a halt in the so-called travel bubble between both countries, as they deal with fresh outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Quarantine-free travel was suspended on July 23, just weeks after it was launched, as the infectious Delta variant spread across Sydney and Melbourne. The suspension was due to end on September 24.

New Zealand's virus-free run ended soon after as the Delta variant imported from Australia led to an outbreak in its largest city Auckland, prompting a national lockdown last month. Auckland still remains shut while the rest of the country has reopened.

"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," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

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