We are delighted to learn that the Australian Government is establishing a Safe Travel Zone with New Zealand from Friday, 16 October.
But before we start packing our bags and booking flights, it’s important to understand how this Trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ works. Because, it’s not quite as simple as Australia and New Zealand opening up to arrivals from each other.
A statement on the Deputy Prime Minister’s website on 02 October said, “We are committed to opening up both domestic travel within Australia and travel with New Zealand, as well as other low risk countries as soon as the health advice says it is safe to do so.”
So, what does that mean exactly?
The Australian Government’s Department of Health has undertaken a public health risk assessment of COVID-19 in New Zealand, which indicated that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia.
As a result, passengers from New Zealand will be able to travel to Australia, quarantine-free, from Friday, 16 October, provided they have not been in an area designated as a COVID-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the preceding 14 days.
At this stage, however, there has been no indication of when Australian arrivals into New Zealand will be permitted.
The Australian Government defines a hotspot using a three-day rolling average of three locally acquired cases per day.
“There are currently no COVID-19 hotspots in New Zealand. The last locally acquired case with an unidentified epidemiological source occurred on 21 August 2020. We are working closely with New Zealand authorities to ensure we are notified promptly of any outbreaks there,” Mr McCormack’s statement said.
Any state or territory that imposes travel restrictions consistent with the Australian Government-defined hotspot, as advised by the acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, will be able to participate in the Safe Travel Zone.
“After offering these arrangements at the latest National Cabinet, we have reached agreement for this first stage of quarantine-free travel with New South Wales and the Northern Territory. We welcome those jurisdictions’ commitment to reopening Australia to the world,” McCormack said.
Normal visa requirements will apply and travellers returning to New Zealand from Australia will be required to comply with New Zealand’s travel requirements.
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