July 26, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

In a blow for trans-Tasman events, the reciprocal travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has been paused by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for at least eight weeks due to the escalation of COVID-19 cases in Australia.

“To the people of Australia, to the state premiers and to the government, you have in us a friend who is willing a speedy recovery for your people, communities and the whole country,” said Ardern when making the announcement.

“But there is no doubt that the movement of people can complicate recovery.”

“We continue to believe that the strongest health response is also the strongest economic response,” she said later in the media conference.

“This approach has served us well to date, so too has our willingness to adapt. COVID has changed and so we must.”

More than 200,000 people have flown between Australia and New Zealand since the travel bubble became reciprocal in April.

Events like the Queenstown Australian Roadshow and MEETINGS in New Zealand saw the events industry take advantage of quarantine-free travel.

When the bubble pause is reassessed in eight weeks, New Zealand will be considering whether outbreaks across Australia have been contained, whether community transmission is low and whether any emerging cases are linked to contained outbreaks.

The timeframe for the earliest possible reopening of the bubble is the second half of September.