International travel has returned to Australia. Well, to only one country, but that’s not a bad start for a world still in the grip of a pandemic.
From April 19, Australians can travel to New Zealand without having to quarantine.
It is the first time since Australia closed its borders last year that residents will be able to travel to another country without having to go into managed isolation.
“The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand is low and that quarantine-free travel is safe to commence,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday.
“Our team’s success in managing COVID-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume Trans-Tasman travel.”
How does the Trans-Tasman Bubble work?
Since October last year, New Zealand residents have been able to travel to Australia without having to quarantine (aside from a few suspensions during coronavirus outbreaks in Auckland).
From April 19, it will be a two-way street. Australians can visit the Land of the Long White Cloud without any managed isolation.
“One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia,” Ms Ardern said.
“So, today’s announcement will be a great relief for many.”
Can any Australian resident go to New Zealand?
Yes, under certain conditions.
People must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a test taken during that period, explained New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
Anyone with cold or flu symptoms will not be permitted to travel.
New Zealand-bound passengers will be on a “green zone flight”, meaning there will be no people on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.
“They will also be flown by crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time,” Mr Hipkins said.
“When they fly, they will be required to wear a mask on their flight and will also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.”
What is the NZ COVID Tracer app?
It’s a phone app that allows Kiwi authorities to keep track of where you have been during your stay in New Zealand.
The app enables faster contact tracing following the detection of a case of COVID-19.
What happens for travelling Australians if there is a COVID outbreak in New Zealand?
The bubble won’t necessarily pop, but travellers are warned to plan for temporary border closures at their expense.
“Of course, while both Australia and New Zealand work very, very hard to prevent any outbreaks on either side, we are asking travellers to just simply prepare in case there is an outbreak that may cause a pause or a suspension in travel,” Ms Ardern said.
Can I book a flight today?
Yes, depending on seat availability. Qantas and Jetstar will operate up to 122 return flights a week – an 83 per cent return to its capacity.
And Air New Zealand plans to run up to 30 flights from Auckland to Australia per day.
Virgin Australia welcomed the New Zealand Government’s move, but it will not increase its flights to New Zealand until October. The company cited the risk of future outbreaks and border closures for its caution.
A statement on its website read: “While the airline remains committed to Trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations.”