- Australia and New Zealand will learn when the two-way, quarantine-free travel bubble begins on April 6.
- The bubble will see New Zealand open to Australia on a state-by-state basis, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday.
- A sporadic one-way travel bubble has operated since October, with New Zealanders allowed to enter Australia without undergoing two weeks of COVID-19 hotel quarantine.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Australians and New Zealanders will learn when the two-way travel bubble opens on April 6, when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern presents a commencement date for the long-awaited scheme to the world.
Speaking in Wellington on Monday, Ardern she will reveal a start date for the travel bubble early next month, just over a year after Australia shuttered its borders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our position has always been clear: opening up our borders to our nearest neighbour is a priority, not only for tourism and business, but also in terms of reuniting friends and families,” Ardern said.
New Zealand will create a “brand new rulebook” for the scheme, Ardern said, with the nation looking to open its borders to Australia on a state-by-state basis.
International flights are still barred from landing in Melbourne, following a hotel quarantine-linked COVID-19 outbreak in February.
“Our view is rather than try and work through a solution that says ‘All of Australia with New Zealand’, that we can work through an arrangement that sees us working with some states but not others,” Ardern said.
New Zealand will ensure systems are in place to respond to potential outbreaks in Australia, and will maintain the capacity to contact trace Australian travellers who may fall ill.
The protocols will make the travel bubble “highly complex”, but the challenge is “not insurmountable,” Ardern said.
A partial travel bubble has operated since October, when New Zealand travellers were permitted to enter Australia without undergoing two weeks of mandatory hotel quarantine.
That system was temporarily suspended in February, following an outbreak in Auckland, and is now back underway.
Separately, News Corp reports Australia’s Human Biosecurity Act, which allows the Federal Government to ban international travel under emergency conditions, was on Monday amended to permit direct travel to New Zealand.
Emergency provisions under the Human Biosecurity Act are slated to end on June 17, but Australian health officials state unfettered international travel is unlikely until 2022.
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