Travel Bubble Between Australia and New Zealand to Start on 19 April
New Zealand has announced it will open a long-anticipated travel bubble with Australia on 19 April.
The start of quarantine-free travel between the neighboring nations comes as a relief to families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators.
While most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand for months, New Zealand has continued a cautious approach requiring mandatory quarantine from its neighbour, citing concern about small COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said health officials believe the risk of the virus being transmitted from Australia is low and that travel is now safe.
“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world-leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said.
Australia and New Zealand are just two of the success stories of the pandemic response.
The virus has effectively been eradicated in both countries, with minor outbreaks a result of leakage from quarantined returned travellers.
Australia has recorded about 29,400 virus cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has had just over 2,100 confirmed cases and 26 fatality.
New Zealand will bring in “green zone” conditions similar to those that its citizens face entering Australia.
Travellers to New Zealand will be required to have spent the 14 days before the flight in Australia only. Airline crews must have only worked on low-risk routes.
Those with cold or flu symptoms will not be allowed to travel, and all passengers must wear masks and give details to New Zealand authorities of where they will be staying.
Ms Ardern warned that travel arrangements could change “if there is an outbreak”.
But she said New Zealand would view cases in Australia “as a region of our own when making decisions on restrictions”. If multiple cases of an unknown origin emerged “we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time”, she added.
Other conditions may be brought in too, including pre-departure testing for people from affected areas.
Australia and New Zealand have also previously raised the idea of separate travel bubbles with low-risk places like Singapore, Taiwan and several Pacific island nations.
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