New Zealand's quarantine-free travel arrangement with Western Australia was disrupted for the second time in eight days on Saturday after fresh cases of COVID-19 were reported in Perth. Authorities reported that a worker in a managed isolation facility in the city, along with two other people he shared accommodation with tested positive.
Mark McGowan, Western Australia Premier, said that the state would not go into lockdown "at this point". But New Zealand health ministry officials said that they conducted a "rapid" assessment and determined, "scheduled direct flights from Western Australia to New Zealand should be immediately paused while a further assessment is carried out".
A flight scheduled to fly to Auckland from Perth at 5:50 am on Sunday has been cancelled, but travel to other Australian states and territories was not affected.
It is the second time such disruption occurred since the two countries opened their quarantine-free travel bubble on April 18, almost 400 days after both closed their international borders due to the pandemic.
Flights between New Zealand and Western Australia were suspended less than a week later, when the Perth and Peel regions were sent into a three-day lockdown after recording a case of community transmission on April 23.
The bubble, which followed months of negotiations between the largely coronavirus-free neighbours, was hailed as a major milestone in restarting a global travel industry that has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Zealand's tourism industry was its biggest export industry before COVID-19, with Australians accounting for about 40 percent of the international visitors.