New Zealand Opposition leader Judith Collins has joined calls for the country open a two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble as Australia reopens its borders to Kiwi travellers.
Yesterday, Australia reopened its one-way travel bubble with the country, allowing New Zealanders to travel to most Australian states without spending time in hotel quarantine.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, said in a statement that while ‘Green Zone’ flights were allowed to resume, states or territories could introduce their own conditions.
Professor Kelly said the situation in New Zealand had improved greatly, with minimal risk remaining from Auckland’s COVID cluster in February.
“New Zealand’s contact tracing efforts showed the recent case identified, unrelated to the Auckland cluster, posed a low risk of COVID-19 spreading in Australia,” he said.
The one-way bubble kicked off in October last year, allowing Kiwi citizens to enter Australia without undergoing any time in hotel quarantine. However, the bubble was suspended in February following an outbreak in Auckland.
Australians are still not permitted to travel to New Zealand under its international travel ban and Kiwis must quarantine for 14-days upon returning from Australia.
Collins has taken the opportunity to change her party policy on a two-way travel bubble and said New Zealand and Australia had done well in minimising the spread.
“We should take the logical next step and get the travel bubble up and running,” she said, according to The New Zealand Herald.
“Both countries have a similar COVID profile and Australia has proven a bubble can work.”
Collins said that while Aussie travellers should still return a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling, they should not have to undergo the mandatory 14-day managed isolation on arrival.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the two-way travel bubble was a matter for the New Zealand government.
“If the New Zealand Government doesn’t wish Australians to visit Australia, New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington or other parts of the country, that’s a matter for them,” he said.
“Australia is open to New Zealand and has been for some time, with the exception of a couple of the brief pauses in that arrangement, that is benefiting our economy.
“It’s benefiting particularly our travel and tourism industry and the aviation sector, which has been most hardly hit by the pandemic.
“But if Australians can’t go to Queenstown, I’m hoping they’ll go to Cairns.”
Last week, Australian Chamber of Tourism chairman John Hart shared a new restart timeline outlining when Australia’s Tourism Restart Taskforce expects a two-way travel bubble and increased inbound international travel.
The new roadmap suggests a two-way bubble between the two countries could be up and running between June and August, with capacity restrictions expected to lift by September.
Outbound international travel could be allowed as soon as June, which would be in line with the government’s extension of the leisure travel ban until 17 June.
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