The “travel bubble” between Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a press conference on Tuesday announced that from 19 April travelers from Australia will be able to visit New Zealand without having to undergo a period of quarantine. Ardern said that the very low circulation of the virus in both countries allows us to face a “new chapter in our recovery”, but also specified that visitors will have to take into account the possibility that their journey will suffer disruption if new outbreaks are found. .

Since last October travelers from New Zealand they could enter in most Australian states without the need for quarantine, but it was not the same for travelers from Australia to New Zealand, about 1.5 million each year before the pandemic. From 11.59 pm on Sunday 18 April, the so-called “travel bill” will be active, which will allow free travel and without quarantine obligation for passengers traveling between the two countries, albeit with some limitations: it will be the first among such large countries, few one was introduced days ago between Taiwan and Palau.

During the press conference on Tuesday, New Zealand’s COVID-19 emergency manager Chris Hipkins said that in order to travel, you will need to prove that you have tested negative for the coronavirus in the 14 days prior to the trip; if you are waiting for the test result you will not be able to travel. Passengers from Australia must have spent at least 14 days in the country before arriving in New Zealand and must wear a mask on the flight, while at New Zealand airports there will be random checks. The New Zealand government has also recommended the use of the “NZ Covid Tracer” infection tracking app for tourists arriving from Australia, the use of which will not be mandatory in any case.

Ardern said the reopening of non-quarantine travel to and from Australia is made possible by the very low risk of transmission that has been observed by leading health authorities, but that those who choose to travel will have to do so carefully and taking responsibility.

Hipkins explained that with these measures the flights of the travel “bubble” between Australia and New Zealand are considered low risk, ie in the “green” area. As for the assessment of alert levels, however, Australia will be considered as a region of New Zealand: therefore, if the cases of contagion were to increase, flights between the two countries would be suspended for a period of up to 72 hours (risk ” Orange”); in the same way, if a lockdown were introduced in an Australian state, flights would be suspended for a longer period of time (“red” risk): if New Zealand tourists were to get stuck in Australia, the government will not give them financial support.

Ardern said the New Zealand government “is simply asking travelers to prepare” for the possibility that they may experience disruption during their journey if an outbreak is discovered. Despite the limitations, according to representatives of several airlines and companies in the tourism sector interviewed by New Zealand Herald, the announcement is a good sign for tourism in both countries and has already boosted flight bookings.

– Read also: Does the “zero-COVID strategy” now make sense?

In the last year, Australia and New Zealand have managed to contain the pandemic both through strict restrictions and because they are islands that do not directly share their borders with other countries.

New Zealand’s approach to the emergency was considered virtuoso since the beginning of the pandemic, when the government closed the borders and introduced a strict lockdown. Unlike many European countries, for example, New Zealand has maintained restrictions for a long time and continued its contact tracing activities scrupulously. In several cases, the identification of a handful of new cases was enough to induce the New Zealand authorities to impose new lockdown.

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