It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for. After months of will-they-won’t-they speculation and inconclusive, consistently pushed-back timelines, New Zealand has finally announced a quarantine-free travel pathway with Australia.
From midnight on Sunday April 18, the borders between Australia and New Zealand will open, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed in a press conference.
“Our health response now gives us an opportunity to commit with loved ones again as we start a new chapter in our recovery.
“Cabinet was presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met. The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand to now be low, and that quarantine-free travel would be safe to commence.”
Ardern also clarified some potential complications and how each Government would navigate these, say if an outbreak was to occur in either country.
“People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” she said. “If we saw multiple cases of unknown origin, we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time.”
Jacinda Ardern is expected to make an announcement about the commencement date of the long-awaited travel bubble today at 2 pm AEST.
Border restrictions or closures between Australia and New Zealand had been in place for over a year, but new reports indicate these measures are due to be lifted on either Monday, April 12 or Monday, April 19, according to sources for The Australian.
It’s not exactly a confirmation, but a number of airlines have dropped new fares and have begun taking bookings for flights beyond these dates.
Until now, there has been around one flight each day from Sydney to Auckland, but from April 19, the volume looks to increase to three or four flights a day. You know what that means: Your NZ skiing trip is looking up.
“To make this work, there will be an element of ‘flyer, beware’,” Arden said according to the New Zealand Herald.
“We want to keep it moving, but we also want to keep both sides safe, so there may be occasions when we take a precautionary approach and, for short periods of time, travel ceases.”
Right now, the understanding is that the bubble would not pop entirely with the news of a state or territory-specific outbreak, provided the spread is contained to that location. Instead, that state may be cut off until deemed safe once more.
Should an outbreak occur while a traveller is overseas, they will be expected to comply with local advice and essentially stay put until advice changes and they are able to fly home.
These kinks and expectations are expected to be outlined further in today’s announcement. Check back regularly for updates.