New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a two-way travel bubble will form with Australia at 11.59pm, 18 April, meaning Australians and Kiwis may travel across the ditch without mandatory hotel quarantine.
“We absolutely encourage family and friends to unite,” she said.
But Ms Ardern warned those undertaking travel to and from both countries must plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted by COVID-19 outbreaks.
“We will also now have a framework for managing an outbreak in Australia.
“We will treat Australia as a region of our own when making decisions on restrictions, albeit one with the complication of multiple internal borders.”
Ms Ardern said New Zealand will have three possible responses to a COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, like a traffic light system – ‘continue’, ‘pause’ or ‘suspend’.
Giving an example, she said if a case is found to be directly linked to a border worker and is contained, travel will continue.
If a case is discovered that is not clearly linked to a border worker, and an Australian state responds with a short lockdown, New Zealand will pause flights.
And if multiple cases of unknown origin form a cluster, flights would likely be suspended “for a period of time”.
It is estimated the bubble will free up over 1,000 rooms per fortnight in New Zealand’s ‘managed isolation’ quarantine system.
“We will retain roughly 500 spaces in contingency should they be needed,” Ms Ardern said.
People who travel to New Zealand from Australia will make a booking on a “green zone flight”.
“That means there’ll be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.
“They will also be flown from crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time.”
Ms Ardern said New Zealand was a safe travel destination and she knew Australians looked forward to the fast-approaching ski season.
“It’s a change of scene so many have been looking for.
“Come see us!”
Australian Airports Association (AAA) chief executive James Goodwin said the new arrangement will provide “a much-needed boost” to tourism and aviation.
“Our consumer research suggests Australians are eager to get on an aircraft and start travelling again with almost 80 per cent supportive of creating travel bubbles with countries where levels of COVID-19 are low,” he said.
“Australia has been allowing New Zealanders to enter the country without quarantine for six months.
“We welcome the New Zealand Government’s decision to open the border and help build trust in travelling again.”
Mr Goodwin said Australia should look to establish more bubbles with other COVID-safe nations such as Singapore, as the vaccine rollout progresses.
He also suggested developing pilot programs to bring in international students and agricultural workers.
“International travel is the key to COVID recovery with international visitors spending on average three times more than domestic tourists.”
Visit covid19.act.gov.au for the latest ACT Government travel advice.
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