After much deliberation, the New Zealand government has finally decided when to start allowing quarantine-free travel from Australia to the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the trans-Tasman bubble will commence in just under a fortnight from 11:59pm local time on Sunday 18 April.
Ardern confirmed the conditions for starting to open up quarantine-free travel with Australia have been met.
“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,” she said.
“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.
“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, so today’s announcement will be a great relief for many.
“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world-leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out.
“We have worked hard to ensure travel is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.”
You can read all about how the two-way trans-Tasman bubble will work here.
It was initially anticipated that NZ would announce a two-way trans-Tasman bubble last month. However, the big reveal was pushed back by a couple of weeks, with Ardern telling the media that more time was needed to set up the framework.
“We know what it would mean for people but we also know that many New Zealanders are nervous,” she said at the time, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia’s border with New Zealand has been mostly open since October, with a few short suspensions due to small coronavirus outbreaks in Auckland.
New Zealand has delayed opening its border with Australia because of the higher number of COVID-19 cases here. Despite this, federal Opposition Leader Judith Collins had joined calls for New Zealand to allow Aussies to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The decision comes after Australia amended its Biosecurity Act last month, allowing people who have been in Australia for at least 14 days to go to New Zealand without having to apply for an exemption to leave the country.
Featured image source: Ministry of Justice of New Zealand