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Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia has been suspended for at least the next two months, as Australia battles to control the rampant Delta variant of the virus, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said materially changed the risk profile for the bubble.
The earliest the bubble would reopen would be about September 18 — the day the Australian September school holidays are due to begin.
There will be flights home from all Australian territories for the next seven days.
The only potential silver lining was the bubble reopening in time for Australian families to have their September school holidays in Queenstown. However, "it would take a leap of faith on their behalf" to book anything until there was some certainty, he said.
Yesterday’s news was "massively disappointing".
"It is just another massive blow for the tourism industry in our part of the world.
"We had been holding out for this Aussie bubble, for the business the Aussie bubble would bring us, since it was announced on April 6, and we have had the rug pulled out from under our feet."
However, Mr Boult said the district was "immensely grateful" to the New Zealanders who had come in their droves to support the area during the July school holidays, helping some businesses to "record turnover".
That said, yesterday’s news would again jeopardise some businesses and future employment for staff.
"There’ll be a lot of people worried about their income again, a lot of people worried about their jobs.
"All I can say is that, as a district, we’ve pulled together in the past and ridden through this and for eight more weeks we’re going to have to do the same.
"The sun will come up."
Cardrona Alpine Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky said there would likely be "a lot of relief" around the bubble pause.
"People are nervous.
"Obviously, it’s far from ideal ... but what would have been a lot worse for us is if we had an outbreak in this region and it closed us down.
"That would have brought a lot of businesses to their knees.
"There’s just too much risk."
Ms Legnavsky said yesterday’s news was not a shock.
"We kind of saw it coming — we’re pretty realistic now ... the penny drops pretty early on [and] we could see it unfolding and going downhill."
In Australia yesterday, New Zealanders started scrambling to get home.
Air New Zealand announced five flights from Sydney to Auckland between July 28 and August 7 after the bubble was paused.
All five flights sold out in a matter of minutes after being made available yesterday morning, Air New Zealand said.
A Queenstown man, who did not want to be named, said within seconds of Ms Ardern announcing the flights to bring people home, his tech-savvy daughter began trying to book a flight.
A message came back "sorry taken" for two of the flights, but his daughter was lucky to secure two tickets on the last flight on August 7.
Five minutes later she went back online and found all the flights were sold out, he said. — Additional reporting The New Zealand Herald