Published on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealand is set to allow quarantine-free visits by Australians starting April 19, with the creation of a “travel bubble” for the neighbouring nations which have closed borders to the rest of the world to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though most Australian states have been allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents for months, New Zealand has continued to enforced isolation for arrivals from its neighbouring nation due to concerns of small COVID-19 outbreaks. The latest move would allow cross-border travel between both the countries without mandatory COVID-19 testing.
Prime Minister Ardern said that the Trans-Tasman travel bubble represents a start of a new chapter in the country’s COVID response and recovery. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison added that the agreement is the first of many more steps set to come as the country gets back to a more normal position, not only over the course of the present year but beyond.
However, Ardern has warned that flights to and from some Australian states could still be suspended if there were local outbreaks. She also mentioned that travellers will have to wear masks on flights and undertake New Zealand contact tracing and that the travel bubble did not apply to people transiting via Australia from other countries. It was also informed that the bubble would operate under a “flyer beware” system, with no new support from the New Zealand government for people stuck in Australia by cancellations at short notice.
Chris Roberts, CEO, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, the New Zealand travel industry body added that tourism operators can now take bookings with confidence and scale up their staffing. Air New Zealand Ltd and Qantas Airways Ltd said they would set up flights between Australia and New Zealand to more than 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, reducing the cash burn when they are almost completely reliant on domestic markets for revenue.
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 deaths. Both the countries have successfully eradicated the pandemic so far, with minor outbreaks as the result of leakage from quarantined returned travellers.