Australia is setting up a travel corridor with New Zealand to allow quarantine-free travel, with flights likely to start within a few weeks – but still a bit of a tricky one.
According to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, travel without quarantine will be one-way from New Zealand to Australia, and a limited number of destinations will be included in the agreement.
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra on Friday, McCormack said Australian states and territories that adhere to Commonwealth-approved travel restrictions could be included in new agreements.
For now, the tourist bubble will cover only New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It will start at 12.01 a.m. Friday, October 16.
McCormack said New Zealanders who were in a coronavirus hotspot for the previous 14 days will be allowed into Australia without quarantine. Under current regulations, anyone flying to Australia must go through 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine, at your own expense.
“This is the first phase that we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries, not just that state and that territory,” McCormack said. “I just got a call from (Northern Territory) Chief Minister (Michael) Gunner, who said the fish are biting and the beers are cold. And he wanted to meet as many of his New Zealand cousins and friends as possible.”
Australian politicians seem more enamored with this idea than those in Tasman.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that New Zealanders who accepted the Australian offer would remain quarantined upon their return.
“We will not open the border for quarantine-free travel with Australia until it is safe because doing so too soon risks losing all the freedoms we had in Australia,” she said. our economy ”.
Ardern says it’s a safety question and she encourages New Zealanders to “spend their dollars locally.”
New Zealand is one of the countries with the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the world, with only 1,848 confirmed cases overall, while Australia is still working to control the outbreak in the second largest city, Melbourne. . Discussions on the potential travel bubble have been going on at least since May.
Currently, New Zealand’s border has been closed to international tourists under restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. McCormack said Ardern will decide if there are exceptions for Australians.
McCormack said: “If (New Zealand Prime Minister) Jacinda Ardern … wants to have Australians coming to New Zealand then it will depend on her and New Zealand as to how those deals can be implemented and under what conditions “.
According to the Commonwealth coronavirus hotspot system, developed by Australian Acting Health Director Paul Kelly, a city is considered a “Covid-19 hotspot” if there are an average of 10 cases of local coronavirus infection. for three days, or at least 30 cases on three consecutive days.
For rural or regional areas, the figure is lower – three days on average, there were three cases of locally acquired coronavirus, or nine in three days. McCormack said South Australia is likely the next state to come up with this definition, although he cannot confirm it.