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NZ, Australia travel no-quarantine bubble to start on 19 April

April 6, 2021 4:27 pm
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Conditions for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand have been met, and a bubble will start in less than two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Cabinet has been meeting today to decide the date the two-way quarantine-free travel will start.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised last month to announce on 6 April when the bubble could begin operating.

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The new settings will begin from 11.59pm on 18 April.

Announcing the start date this afternoon, Ardern said Cabinet had accepted the advice of the Director-General of Health and was “confident not only in the state of Australia but also in our own ability to manage a travel arrangement”.

“While Queensland has recently undergone an outbreak connected to the border, this too looks contained. And Cabinet believes any residual risk can be managed with additional precautionary processes such as pre-departure testing if needed.”

Ardern said a system with three levels – continue, pause, suspend – would manage the trans-Tasman bubble.

“Pause” would be a temporary halt to travel and “suspend” would be longer term if there was a more serious outbreak.

Ardern said it was an important step forward in New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, “and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world, that is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out.”

She today said airlines had not been given any forewarning about when a bubble with Australia would be opened.

Ardern had previously said the government had carefully worked through the framework of a trans-Tasman bubble.

But she warned travelling would not be without risk and if there was a community outbreak in Australia, travelling Kiwis may have to stay put, self-isolate or be tested once they return.

The three-day lockdown in the Greater Brisbane area was lifted over the weekend and there have been no new cases in Queensland for the second day in a row.

In northern New South Wales coronavirus restrictions eased on Monday night after another day of no new community cases.

New Zealand’s tourism industry has been waiting impatiently for quarantine-free visitor flights between the two nations to return, giving a much-needed injection of life into the sector, which could bring an estimated $1 billion into the national economy.

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