Australia’s Minister for Tourism has advised that Australians could be jetting off to New Zealand by the end of the year.
Simon Birmingham said Australia is beginning to open to New Zealand because of their similarly strong COVID outcomes.
The minister made the comments just days before Australia opens select borders to New Zealanders, quarantine-free, from Friday 16 October.
“Work continues on how we can facilitate two-way COVID-safe travel between Australia and New Zealand, and I hope that we can see a reciprocal arrangement of quarantine-free travel with New Zealand by the year’s end,” Birmingham said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Our arrangement with New Zealand will provide a blueprint to prove up the model of how we run safe corridors – green lanes of international visitors coming in and out of Australia – and whether this can be extended to other similarly low-risk countries down the track.
“We will also work with health experts on how the rollout of any vaccine will facilitate further international travel.”
Next in line, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is likely to be Pacific Island Nations, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
The Courier-Mail reported that Morrison said his cabinet ministers have had discussions in the past week with South-east Asian leaders about potential travel ‘bubbles’.
“We have to go cautiously on this, very, very cautiously,” he said.
“COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s still there and it is no less aggressive today than it was six months ago.”
Morrison also took the opportunity to criticize Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hardline border closures.
“Borders don’t protect you from the virus, the virus moves,” he said.
“If infections are created here in Queensland, or anywhere else for that matter, it is the testing and the tracing regimes, and of course social distancing and other COVID-safe behaviours that are really necessary.”
This comes as federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the National Press Club that Australians are expected to be unable to leave the country until at least late 2021.
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