Australia New Zealand Travel Bubble Will Open April 19

Australia and New Zealand to start quarantine-free travel

After several false starts, the long-touted Trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is now a reality.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the much-anticipated pandemic travel bubble between Australia and our Kiwi counterparts is set to officially commence in less than two weeks.

The South Pacific nation is a popular holiday destination and its Covid-crippled tourism industry has been pressing for months to have quarantine-free travel for Australians, who make up about 40 percent of global visitors.

The news will come as a major boost to the two countries' Super Rugby sides, who have only played against domestic opposition since the regular Super Rugby season was cancelled in March 2020.

"We absolutely wish to encourage family and friends to reunite and visitors to come and enjoy the hospitality New Zealand is ready and waiting to offer", she said, but cautioned that "people will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak".

The news will also come as a boost to test rugby in the southern hemisphere, which was seriously hampered by the pandemic a year ago.

Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand without having to quarantine from 11:59 pm on Sunday April 18, Ms Ardern said Tuesday afternoon.

The major airline said frequently changing border restrictions meant it was now unfeasible to offer more frequent, and earlier flights across the Tasman.

"Just as we had alert-level settings for managing cases in New Zealand, we will have a framework for managing an outbreak in Australia", she said.

Air New Zealand increased its schedule of flights from Monday, 19 April, with 23 return services between Auckland and Sydney as opposed to the four return flights now available.

Australia and New Zealand to start quarantine-free travel

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also welcomed New Zealand's decision to once again allow travel across the Tasman in time for Anzac Day.

"All we need is the permission", he said.

Australian and NZ borders have been shut to nearly all non-citizens since March previous year, with both countries requiring arrivals to spend a fortnight in quarantine before entering the community.

But if a state government enacted a short lockdown, that may cause New Zealand to pause flights from that region.

Air New Zealand immediately announced it was ramping up flights to Australia from the current four a week to more than 20 when the bubble takes effect.

If we saw multiple cases of unknown origin, flights would likely be suspended for a set period of time.

The idea of the travel bubble has been in the news for almost 12 months but has previously been scuttled due to outbreaks. This will include vigilant contact tracing, and "green zones" separating travellers from Australia and New Zealand, and travellers from other destinations not within the bubble.

However, Virgin Australia said while the travel bubble was a step in the right direction it would only be offering a limited schedule for flights to the ski resort town of Queenstown over the next five months.

Ms Ardern said in this case, once the bubble restarted, travellers could then be asked to monitor symptoms, take a test before leaving, isolate on arrival or go into managed isolation for 14 days - but only in "some situations".

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