Ardern described the arrangement as potentially unique in the world, with two countries maintaining a comprehensive proactive strategy for Covid-19 while allowing international travel. The plan has been in the works for months, but it has been put on hold several times due to minor Covid-19 outbreaks in both countries.
“Quarantine-free travel will not be the same as it was before Covid-19.” Said the NZ Prime Minister. Travellers who had cold or flu symptoms or were awaiting a Covid-19 test result would be unable to travel. Travellers would have to wear a mask in-flight and provide contact information for the duration of their stay in New Zealand.
Also, random temperature checks will be conducted at the airport to prevent anyone exporting COVID to either country.
How will the Travel Bubble Will Work?
Australians who decide to visit New Zealand will book a green zone flight. This ensures that no passengers on that flight would have arrived in the last 14 days from somewhere other than Australia. Additionally, they will be flown by crew members who have not operated on any high-risk routes inside a specified time span.
Passengers must have complete contact information for the duration of their stay in New Zealand. If they have a cold or flu symptoms, they may be unable to fly.
When travelling, passengers will be expected to wear a mask and to download and use the New Zealand COVID Tracer app while in the country. Passengers arriving at the airport will be guided through “green zones.” This means that those coming from other parts of the world would have no contact with those coming in from Australia.
All of these steps are designed to mitigate the risk posed by COVID-19 to non-quarantined travellers to the greatest extent possible. Travellers can, however, take it a step further by purchasing specialised insurance covering Coronavirus related costs. This will instil additional confidence and peace of mind in people who want to take advantage of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble when it opens in a few weeks’ time.
The Start of a New Chapter
The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is the start of a new chapter in New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and recovery strategy. Prime Minister Ardern stated that the decision was made after the two countries were assured that the COVID-19 regulation remained intact despite the relaxation of quarantine and travel restrictions.
Allowing cross-border travel without mandatory COVID-19 testing is one of the first agreements.
“One sacrifice that has been especially difficult for many over the last year has been the distance between friends and family in Australia, so today’s announcement will come as a huge relief to many,” Ardern said. “This is the start of a new chapter.”
If there are no COVID-19 outbreaks in either country before 19 April, it will be the first travel bubble in Asia-Pacific since the pandemic began, following the November collapse of plans to introduce a similar arrangement between Hong Kong and Singapore.
Travel Bubble Will Give Economic Boost
According to NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, “the bubble will bolster our economic growth and deliver a world-leading strategy for safely expanding international travel while helping to follow an elimination policy and preventing the epidemic from spreading.”
According to 2018 figures, nearly 568,000 New Zealanders live in Australia, constituting 2.3 per cent of the overall population and the country’s fourth-largest migrant group. According to New Zealand numbers, bilateral trade between the two countries is worth $18.06 billion, making Australia the country’s largest trading partner. So, obviously, the coming travel bubble opening will do a lot for the economy of New Zealand.
The decision is also being praised by New Zealand tourism companies, many of which have struggled to thrive without foreign tourism over the last year. Tourism New Zealand forecasted in March that opening travel to Australians could help the country’s tourism revenue rebound to 70% of pre-Covid levels. They anticipated a NZ$1 billion boost to New Zealand’s economy for the remainder of the calendar year with the travel bubble open.
The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is the result of months of talks between the APAC neighbours and would allow for quarantine-free travel in both directions, ending the existing one-way agreement that enables New Zealanders to enter certain Australian states but includes a mandatory 14-day quarantine on those travelling from Australia to New Zealand.
Airlines from both countries have stated their intention to increase flight capacity after the agreement takes effect.
Air New Zealand said it would function at 70% of pre-COVID levels from April 19, while Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar aim to operate at 83% of pre-COVID levels.