New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today, that a two-way, quarantine-free trans-tasman travel bubble will start from 11.59pm on Sunday, April 18.
A one-way agreement has been in place since October allowing New Zealand travelers to enter Australia without quarantine, however this has not been reciprocated.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand cabinet believed conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel had been met and the risk was low. Both nations have since contained Covid outbreaks and kept infection rates near zero.
The Trans-Tasman Bubble agreement was supposed to be up and running by September 2020, however due to minor outbreaks in both countries the decision had been postponed.
“This is an exciting day,” Ms Ardern said of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, which will see flights depart from Australia and land in New Zealand from April 19.
The Australian Government has already amended The Biosecurity Act 2015 to allow Australian citizens who have been in Australia for at least two weeks to go to New Zealand and have welcomed the news of two-way, quarantine-free travel. “Australia and New Zealand have led the way when it comes to managing COVID,” Mr Morrison said. “The fact that we can combine again will mean jobs and will mean people reunited.”
Ms Ardern warns that travellers will still need to prepare for the possibility of major disruptions, despite the travel bubble. “While quarantine-free travel to Australia and vice versa will start in a fortnight, it will not be what it was pre-COVID,” Ms Ardern said.
The New Zealand government has a framework for managing an outbreak in Australia. “Once we know about a case in Australia, we will have three possible responses when it comes to flights and access to our border,” she said.
They will capture these with a framework based on continue, pause, or suspend. If a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, travel will be likely to continue in the same way. If, however, a case is found that is not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, they are likely to pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand as if it were going into a full lockdown. And if New Zealand saw multiple COVID-19 cases of unknown origin, the country would likely suspend flights for a set period of time.
Any travellers that may have been exposed to the virus would be asked to follow at least one of these four instructions:
- Monitor symptoms on return
- Take a test before they depart
- Isolate on arrival
- In some situations, go into managed isolation for up to 14 days
Passengers will need to provide complete information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand. When travellers fly, they will be required to wear a mask and will also need to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.
Upon arrival in New Zealand, passengers will be taken through “green zones” at the airport. This means there will be no contact with those arriving from other parts of the world. Random temperature checks will be conducted at the airports as an extra precaution.
Air New Zealand has introduced daily flights between Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney starting from this Friday, with Qantas and Jetstar also set to ramp up flights.