Quarantine travel between New Zealand and Australia will resume on April 19.
New Zealand and Australia have announced that they will open the long-awaited "Covid-safe travel bubble" on April 19, after both countries managed to eliminate the spread of coronavirus. The beginning of quarantine-free travel between neighboring nations will come as a relief to families who have been separated by the pandemic, as well as to tour operators.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, said that health officials believe that the risk of transmitting the virus in Australia is low and that travel is now safe. "The travel agreement will provide an impetus for economic recovery and is an arrangement for the safe opening of international travel, while continuing a strategy to eliminate and maintain the virus.", said Ardern.
Australia has previously allowed New Zealanders to arrive without quarantine, but New Zealand has taken a more cautious approach to those in Australia, requiring travelers to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival. The two countries managed to eliminate the virus by putting barriers to the outside world. Both Australia and New Zealand have imposed strict quarantine requirements for travelers.
The "travel bubble" comes with a warning: Travelers, be careful!
The announcement comes ahead of the New Zealand ski season and has been welcome news for many tourist towns, including the Queenstown ski resort.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that this is an important first step for Australia as the nation slowly begins to return to normal. "Being able to travel again will mean new jobs, it will bring people together, it will mean many opportunities as normal relations between Australia and New Zealand are restored," he said.
"People will have to consider canceling or shortening the trip if there is an outbreak," she said. This means that those who want to travel may be temporarily stranded in any of the countries or may be forced into quarantine.
Airlines reacted quickly by announcing a large increase in the number of flights and lower prices.
New Zealand does not intend to increase the number of international travelers, continuing the cautious approach to the pandemic. Australia also has no plans to enter into travel agreements with countries other than the small Pacific nations of the Cook Islands and Niue, both of which have strong constitutional ties to New Zealand.
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran began working for the airline last year, just as the pandemic hit. He worked for five years as CEO of Walmart. He said he is looking forward to meeting some of his grandchildren. "I will definitely get my passport out for the first time since I joined the airline to cross the border to see my family.", he said.
Qantas Airlines, through CEO Alan Joyce, is firm in position: get vaccinated or stay home! With the start of the vaccination process against COVID-19, only those who will prove vaccination will be able to board their planes.