International tourism is back: Australians allowed to visit New Zealand – and Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern promises quarantine between Tasman neighbours will soon end
- Australia no longer requires citizens to apply for exemption to visit New Zealand
- Changes were made to Australia’s emergency bisosecurity laws on Monday
- Quarantine is still required in New Zealand but that is expected to change soon
Australia has amended its international travel ban to allow citizens to legally leave the country and visit New Zealand.
Under changes to the emergency biosecurity laws made Monday, anyone who has been in Australia for at least 14 days can travel ‘directly to New Zealand’.
Australians were previously required to apply for an exemption to cross the Tasman as part of the ban on travelling overseas.
Those visiting New Zealand still have to undertake 14 days quarantine – but that is expected to change soon.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the commencement date for quarantine-free travel between the two countries will be announced on April 6.
Australia no longer requires its citizens to apply for an exemption to travel to New Zealand
‘It is close,’ Ms Ardern said in interviews to breakfast TV shows on TVNZ and Three on Monday morning.
‘No one should expect at the end of the day there will be an opening (and) today is not the day you’re going to get that final date and decision.
‘But we do expect to be in a position to open up the bubble soon.’
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Ms Ardern first agreed on a trans-Tasman bubble in May last year.
However a series of Covid-19 outbreaks and and changes in travel regulations had forced delays to the restoration of pre-COVID travel arrangements.
Still, Australia’s three biggest states have opened their borders to Kiwi travellers.
For trans-Tasman families, airlines, airports and NZ tourism businesses, there’s a strong eagerness to get people moving again.
About 600,000 Kiwis live in Australia, and 75,000 Australians call NZ home.
Under changes to the emergency biosecurity laws made Monday, anyone who has been in Australia for at least 14 days can travel ‘directly to New Zealand’
Australia’s three biggest states have opened their borders to Kiwi travellers, allowing visitors from New Zealand to enter without having to undergo 14 days hotel quarantine
Ms Ardern also wants to ensure the deadly virus does not return to New Zealand.
‘I’m cautious. People know that about the way that we’ve been operating,’ she said.
‘We have to make sure we don’t jeopardise domestic tourism by having outbreaks in NZ and that’s why we have to get this right.’
Ms Ardern said any opening would require travellers to take on a degree of risk in the event of an outbreak where they are visiting.
‘It’s very likely those New Zealanders would have to shelter in place,’ she said.
‘We have thousands of people who prior to COVID crossed the Tasman on both sides. We would not be in the position to repatriate thousands of New Zealanders to come back in a managed isolation arrangement.’
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) said a decision on the trans-Tasman travel bubble ‘is close’
Last month, Ms Ardern walked away from a pledge to open up the bubble by March, but the issue has gained a new prominence after the opposition shifted tack to support it.
Last week, 42,000 Kiwis signed a petition backed by the National Party asking for the bubble to begin immediately.
Ms Ardern denied politics was behind Labour’s new-found enthusiasm for the policy.
‘A petition doesn’t make this decision. We make it based on health advice,’ she said.
‘We never do anything we’re not ready to do.’