After being cut off from the rest of the world for nearly a year, New Zealand is reopening its borders, with a trans-Tasman travel bubble which will allow for two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia.
On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that the bubble would open on April 19, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two countries.
Ms Ardern stated that the New Zealand cabinet believed that the conditions for allowing quarantine-free travel had been met and that the risk was negligible and manageable.
“The Cabinet agrees that any risk level is low can be handled,” she said.
Despite quarantine-free visits for months to most Australian states by New Zealanders, New Zealand has kept compulsory quarantine from Australia, citing concerns about small COVID-19 outbreaks in that country.
Both countries have largely eliminated the virus, however, there have been sporadic outbreaks occurring as a result of contamination from returning travellers.
The Start of a New Chapter
Ardern said to reporters in the North-American capital, Wellington, “The Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble is the beginning of a new chapter in our response and recovery from COVID.
It’s relatively unique to New Zealand and Australia and is a development that family, friends and major parts of our economy will welcome.
Ardern pointed out that no other government in the world has a strategy for keeping their countries completely free of COVID while opening up to international travels, so New Zealand will be setting the pace as a world leader.
Ardern said at the Tuesday press conference that not only is she confident in Australia but also in New Zealand to manage the proper travel arrangements.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison commended Ardern’s announcement as airlines hurriedly announced hundreds of weekly flights and routes in both countries. Tourism operators, however, warned that the benefits would be profitable only in the short term as the first travellers are likely to be low-spending families.
Green Zone Travel
If you’re flying to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free trip, you won’t be able to travel if you have a cold or flu symptoms, but you won’t be asked to take a Covid-19 examination.
Anyone who has had a positive Covid-19 test within the last 14 days or is awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test within the last 14 days will be unable to fly. Onboard flights, masks will be required.
Those arriving in New Zealand will pass through a “green zone” in the airport, which will be separated from all other aircraft, and the flights will be crewed by personnel who have never flown on a high-risk route.
All these measures are put in place to minimise as much as possible the risk posed by COVID-19 to quarantine-free travellers. However, travellers can take things a step further by investing in special travel insurance that covers costs related to COVID-19. This will provide that extra peace of mind and confidence for travellers that want to take advantage of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble come April 19.
Travel Bubble Designed to Aid Economic Recovery
The bubble would fuel New Zealand’s economic recovery and make the country a global leader in healthy foreign travel while pursuing a plan to eliminate and hold the virus out.
The tourism business of NZ has been looking forward to the return of quarantine-free tourist flights from two countries, which could bring in an extra $1 billion worth of life for the national economy.
New Zealand and Australia have been successful in almost stopping the local spread of COVID-19 by enforcing some of the toughest lockdowns in the world in the early stages of the pandemic, along with closely tracking new cases and compulsory quarantines for everyone visiting.
The interventions resulted in just 26 deaths in New Zealand and 909 deaths in Australia as a result of Covid-19. With the exception of a few minor outbreaks, since June last year, New Zealand has been overwhelmingly COVID-free, allowing resumption of public meetings and regular activities. Australia, on the other hand, had to deal with rare outbreaks, pushing it to enforce rigorous lockdowns on a regular basis. So, it goes without saying that the quarantine-free travel between both countries will do a lot for the economies of the two countries.
Airlines Set for the Travel Bubble
Once the travel bubble bursts, Air New Zealand Ltd and Qantas Airways Ltd of Australia said they would raise flights between the two countries by at least 70% of the pre-pandemic rate.
In addition, Air New Zealand announced that it will begin flying to nine Australian locations, including a new route to Hobart. However, the consequences of foreign and domestic border closures are also being felt by some carriers, with Virgin Australia – which went into voluntary administration early in the pandemic – announcing that it would only resume flying to New Zealand in November.
While Australia has been COVID-free since the beginning of the year, with the exception of a small outbreak in Queensland last month, the introduction of a trans-Tasman travel bubble comes nearly two months after the most recent case of community transmission in New Zealand.