Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia to begin this month
The move comes with a warning that “quarantine-free travel will not be what it was pre-Covid-19”.
New Zealand has announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will begin on Monday, 19 April.
A statement on the New Zealand government website on Tuesday announced that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins have confirmed that the conditions for starting to open up quarantine-free travel with Australia have been met.
The risk of transmission from Covid-19 from Australia has been deemed low by the Director-General of Health in New Zealand and quarantine-free travel has been deemed safe to commence from less than two weeks’ time.
Since October of last year, travellers from New Zealand had been permitted to enter most Australian states without the need to quarantine and it is only now that the agreement has been reciprocated.
“Our team’s success in managing Covid-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume Trans-Tasman travel,” the statement read.
“One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many.
“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.
“We have worked hard to ensure travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.”
While the move will be a welcome one, it does come with a warning that "quarantine-free travel will not be what it was pre-Covid-19, and those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’". Travellers from New Zealand have been warned that they will need to plan for the possibility of their trip being disrupted if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 in Australia.
A similar framework for managing cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand with Alert Level settings will now apply to New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause and suspend.
New Zealand has been widely praised for its response to Covid-19. Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, there have been just over 2,500 cases of the virus in the country and 26 deaths related to Covid-19.