New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her government will announce the start date for the new trans-Tasman bubble on April 6.
It comes after Australia’s international travel ban was lifted for New Zealand.
Prime Minister Ardern and her Cabinet ministers have been locked in talks on Monday deciding the next steps for the bubble, which will allow Australians to travel to New Zealand without quarantining,
At a post-Cabinet press briefing this afternoon, Ms Arden there have been 12 meetings between Australian and New Zealand officials about the travel bubble and the starting date will be revealed on April 6.
“We don’t have a date for you,” Ms Ardern said.
The NZ Government, she said, was looking at an Australian state-by-state bubble and that it was “highly complex” and that “a lot of detail” had to be worked through.
She said it is “very likely” the NZ Government would shut down travel if there was a community outbreak where the source was not known.
“On both sides of the ditch, there will be an element of flyer beware,” Ms Ardern said.
Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield will also provide an assessment, the NZ Herald said.
The Morrison government has changed to emergency biosecurity laws to allow anyone who has been in Australia for at least 14 days to be able to travel “directly to New Zealand”.
Previously Australians leaving the country for any reason were required to gain an exemption to do so.
“I have said that it is close – that we do expect to be in the position to open up the bubble soon,” she said.
It comes as Australians will be able to travel the country in style with Virgin dropping a massive sale spearheaded by the airline’s cheapest ever business class fares across more than 50 destinations.
The sale – which will last until March 29 unless sold out – will offer one-way business class fares from $279 and one-way economy flights from $67 to 52 locations.
Australians looking to travel on select dates between April 21 and December 15 will be able to fly business class between Sydney and Melbourne, Melbourne and Adelaide and Sydney and the Gold Coast for $279 one-way.
Economy fares also expected to be snapped up quickly, including $67 one-way fares between Sydney and the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Adelaide as well as Melbourne and Launceston.
Virgin Australia’s sale will be offered on top of the federal government’s travel scheme of 800,000 half-price fares on sale from April 1.
All fares include baggage, seat selection and free booking flexibility for travel until January 31.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said the sale was designed to get Australians back in the skies now state border closures had been eased.
“Virgin Australia is committed to offering Australians irresistible airfares, and this sale is an example of how we are trying to help support the tourism economy, with 52 routes across the country on sale for the next week and fares from just $67,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said.
“Along with a new and fresh business class menu which launches Thursday, guests can enjoy a seat at the pointy end with business class fares from a record low of just $279 between major destinations.
“We’re excited about the future of travel in Australia and so are Australians.”
On-sale one-way business class routes include:
- Melbourne – Sydney from $279
- Gold Coast – Sydney from $279
- Adelaide – Melbourne from $279
- Brisbane – Sydney from $329
- Melbourne – Gold Coast from $329
- Adelaide – Sydney from $399
- Brisbane – Hamilton Island from $449
- Sunshine Coast – Melbourne from $449
- Brisbane – Perth from $849
- Melbourne – Perth from $849
On-sale one-way economy class routes include:
- Sydney – Gold Coast from $67
- Melbourne – Adelaide from $67
- Launceston – Melbourne from $79
- Hobart – Melbourne from $89
- Perth – Sydney from $189
- Canberra – Brisbane from $135
- Darwin – Brisbane from $179
The sale comes as Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said he is hopeful international travel will be possible next year as vaccines are rolled out globally.
Professor Murphy said alternative quarantine measures may be possible.
“As we get more and more Australians vaccinated, and as more and more countries around the world get vaccinated, we will start to progressively look at what sort of border and quarantine measures we have to do,” Dr Murphy told Sky News.
“We might think about for example reducing the length of quarantine, or more home quarantine, particularly for vaccinated people.
“Our risk tolerance will change over the second half of this year. I think what I’ve said is nobody can really predict what will happen with international borders, I’m hopeful that pretty good international travel will happen next year but it’s just too early to tell because there are things we don’t know about the vaccines yet.”
QLD-NZ TRAVEL BUBBLE OPEN
Queensland’s chief health officer has approved flights from New Zealand to resume from Saturday night.
The one-way travel bubble was paused due to concerns about community transmission in New Zealand.
Dr Jeannette Young said those in mandatory quarantine due to restrictions on flights from New Zealand may leave quarantine at one minute past midnight if they have a negative COVID test result.
Direct passenger flights between New Zealand and Tasmania will also resume for the first time in more than 20 years.
Air New Zealand announced on Friday it would run two flights a week from Auckland to Hobart, on Thursdays and Sundays, once quarantine-free travel is available.
QANTAS STARTS VACCINE PASSPORT TRIAL
Qantas officials believe their first customer trial of a digital health passport on a flight from Germany is a major step forward in the push to get Australians travelling internationally again.
The airline’s QF116 repatriation flight from Frankfurt to Darwin touched down on Friday morning, and passengers on-board were the first to trial the CommonPass digital health app.
Those on-board were invited to use the CommonPass app to show their negative COVID-19 test result, but the app aims to eventually incorporate proof of vaccination.
The CommonPass smartphone app, designed by Swiss-based company Commons Project Foundation, is a secure app that connects customers to certified testing labs so results can be uploaded to their phone.
CommonPass assesses whether the individual’s COVID-19 test results or vaccination records come from a trusted source and satisfy the health screening requirements of a country they want to enter.
CommonPass delivers a simple yes or no answer as to whether the individual meets the current entry criteria.
Passengers can show border officials proof of a negative COVID test result before their flight, a requirement within 72 hours of entering Australia.
Qantas successful trialled CommonPass with flight crew in February and said digital vaccine passports would help its quest to resume international travel by late October.
Originally published as Ardern says more time needed for NZ travel bubble