From April 19, New Zealand will allow Australian visitors to enter the country without having to stay in a hotel.
“Cabinet was presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Ms Ardern warned people to expect their travel arrangements to be modified at any time, including landing and being quarantined in a hotel.
“Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so under the guidance of flyer beware,” she said.
“People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak.”
When Will the Travel Bubble in New Zealand Begin?
Australians will be able to cross the ditch quarantine-free from 11:59 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday, April 18th, or from Monday, April 19th.
Many traveling to New Zealand may not need an exemption to leave Australia.
The one-way bubble that started in October is still in effect for Kiwis who want to visit Australia, with all states and territories except Western Australia participating.
Anyone flying into New Zealand will pass through a “green zone” in airports, which will be separated from other passengers arriving from around the world, much as New Zealanders do in Australia.
The announcement from his counterpart across the Tasman was warmly received by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“After spending all that time in New Zealand, for the past year, I’m sure that so many will be keen to get on that plane and come across,” Mr Morrison said.
“It is a win-win outcome for the trans-Tasman travel to be open — both countries benefit from that occurring.”
Where am I Able to Travel?
The bubble allows Australians to travel to any location in New Zealand as long as flights are available.
Although borders to other countries are closed, it is hoped that people will take advantage of the opportunity to fly across New Zealand and inject some much-needed cash into the economy.
Tourism NZ estimates that in a typical year, Australian tourism contributes $NZ2.7 billion ($2.5 billion) to the economy, and that this year, if all goes well with the bubble, it will be around $NZ1 billion.
What Happens if a COVID Case Arises?
This was one of Ms Ardern’s stumbling points, as she had previously stated that she would not open up to a complete bubble until she was certain that she could keep New Zealanders safe.
If a case is detected in Australia, Ms Ardern has three options: proceed, pause, or suspend the bubble.
She predicted that if there was a case linked to a quarantine or border worker that was quickly contained, the bubble would likely persist.
If there was a localized outbreak that resulted in a brief lockdown, such as the one that occurred recently in Brisbane, a pause could be implemented.
However, if a number of group cases with an unknown source emerge, the New Zealand government can temporarily halt the bubble.
Travellers arriving in New Zealand from an outbreak or previous outbreak area may be asked to do one of the following things, according to Ms Ardern, “depending on the risk”:
- Keep track of your symptoms
2. Give them a test before they depart
3. Isolate when you arrive
- 4. Put yourself in “controlled isolation” for 14 days, but only in “certain conditions”
Ms Ardern stated that if a flight returning from Australia was required to enter controlled isolation, passengers would not be paid.
She also mentioned that a decision would be taken about whether or not passengers flying from Queensland would be required to take a test before boarding their flights on Wednesday.
The New Zealand policy would be similar to Australia’s, which has seen the bubble paused and people quarantined during outbreaks in Auckland.
It’s reopened once things are under control, people are able to leave quarantine, and life goes on as usual.
Mr Morrison expressed his hope that the states and territories would react “proportionately” to COVID-19 outbreaks in New Zealand, preventing the bubble from bursting.
“We all understand, whether it’s Prime Minister Ardern or myself, that we’re still not living in a COVID-free environment despite the success of both countries.
“From time to time, the steps might have to be taken to protect both countries if there is a sizeable outbreak.
“I think that’s just assumed.”
How far Would it set you Back?
This is a decision made by the airlines that operate the flights, mostly Qantas and Air New Zealand.
Virgin Australia has placed a stop to the selling of most of its New Zealand flights until the end of October, arguing that the bubble’s “evolving border requirements” bring too much “complexity” to its operations.
As is customary, it depends on where you’re going and when you’re going.
There have also been some doubts on whether or not there would be any rental cars available, considering the shortages in many Australian cities.
Demand will always be a factor, so consult with whatever local providers are available in the region where you want to drive.
Do you Need to be Vaccinated Against COVID?
No, you are not required to have one in order to fly to New Zealand or return to Australia.
Earlier this year, Air New Zealand revealed that it was testing a vaccine passport for flights to Australia.
Once someone has been screened or vaccinated, the information is safely sent to the vaccine passport app, which is then cross-checked against the country’s travel criteria.
Is the Bubble Accessible to Anyone?
Yes, the bubble is available to anyone who is eligible to live in Australia or New Zealand.
According to Smart Traveller, you can fly as long as you’ve been in either country for 14 days prior to departure and meet the normal (pre-pandemic) border entry requirements.
However, if you’re not an Australian citizen and are a permanent resident, you’ll need to apply for a NZeTa visa.
Anyone who has visited New Zealand inside the bubble is immediately excluded from Australia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
Regardless of whether you’re a resident or a visa holder, you’ll need to fill out an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your departure on the way back from New Zealand.
What are International Travel Bubbles?
There are currently no other bubbles on the horizon that are as similar to the one in New Zealand, so this will be a good opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t.
Even though Kiwis have been able to visit Australia for a few months, the number of people traveling between the two countries would be considerably higher now that a two-way bubble is in effect.
It’s a chance for all governments to put it to the test and see how it works in the event of a localized outbreak.
It’s also a chance for tourism businesses to see what it’s like to operate in a post-COVID world and what improvements, if any, they’ll need to make.
Mr Morrison noted that it was too early to comment about other potential bubbles.
Is it Possible for me to Travel to New Zealand and Then to Another Country?
The trans-Tasman travel bubble isn’t a way to get around Australia’s stringent international travel restrictions.
You won’t be traveling under the travel bubble if you intend to travel to New Zealand and then to another country.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to apply for a travel exemption before you can leave Australia.
Source: ABC World News