Residents of New Zealand and Australia will be able to travel freely between the two countries without needing to quarantine starting April 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday while highlighting the success both countries have had in nearly eliminating community transmission of Covid-19 inside their borders.
Starting April 19, Australians will be free to travel to New Zealand with no mandatory quarantine, Ardern announced in a press conference.
While New Zealanders have mostly been able to enter Australia without restrictions since October, Wellington had held off on allowing Australians to do the same due to frequent recurrence of COVID-19 clusters across Australia.
Australians planning to fly into New Zealand will have to book a “green zone flight,” which will only be open to passengers who have been in Australia for the last 14 days.
Specific flights from certain Australian states may be suspended in case there is a local outbreak of the virus in that state.
Ardern, however, conceded that both countries will have the right to close their borders at short notice if needed and noted that people will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if an outbreak occurs.
“This is an exciting day. The trans-Tasman bubble represents the start of a new chapter in our COVID response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard for, and this makes New Zealand and Australia relatively unique,” Ardern said.
0. That’s the total number of community transmission cases both Australia and New Zealand have reported in the past 24 hours, according to their government’s Covid-19 trackers. According to the Johns Hopkins University, Australia has reported 81 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, while New Zealand has reported 14—nearly all of which have been detected in incoming travelers who are in quarantine.
Both New Zealand and Australia have managed to nearly stamp out the local spread of Covid-19 by implementing some of the world’s strictest lockdowns early in the pandemic, in addition to close monitoring of new cases and mandatory quarantines for any person traveling into the country. As a result of the measures, New Zealand has reported only 26 deaths and Australia has reported 909 deaths due to Covid-19. Barring a few small outbreaks, New Zealand has largely been Covid-free since June last year, which has allowed people to resume public gatherings and normal activities. Australia, on the other hand, has had to deal with infrequent outbreaks in the community, forcing it to periodically implement strict lockdowns. However, swift lockdowns have allowed the country to prevent any instance of community transmission to snowball into a large outbreak.
Australians can fly quarantine-free to New Zealand from late April 18: Ardern (Sydney Morning Herald)