New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to reveal the start date for quarantine-free travel for Australians to Aotearoa.
Ms Ardern’s cabinet will meet to sign off a plan to create the trans-Tasman bubble on Tuesday morning, before an announcement at 2pm AEST (4pm local time).
Australian and New Zealand borders have been shut to almost all non-citizens since March last year, with both countries requiring arrivals to spend a fortnight in quarantine before entering the community.
Success in fighting the virus has prompted calls for the two allies to re-open their borders to each other.
Australian states began scrapping their restrictions last October, but to date, New Zealand is yet to do so.
Kiwis have been fearful of a return of the deadly virus to their country, but University of Auckland professor Shaun Hendy said the re-opening was worth the risk.
“It’s not greatly increasing the risk to New Zealand… and it will be good for many people with family in Australia,” he told Radio NZ.
“We are going to have to make these small incremental risks.
“We do want to get something like normal life back over the next year.”
Families separated by the Tasman Sea have been among the loudest voices calling for a resumption of normal travel.
Tourism-related industries and businesses are also desperate for travel to resume.
“We’re all looking forward to hearing what the New Zealand government has to announce,” Auckland Airport executive Scott Tasker said.
Mr Tasker was one of 40 representatives, including airports, airlines and government officials, in the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group which last June put together a logistical plan for the aviation system to re-open.
“It was to really provide a blueprint to both governments on how trans-Tasman quarantine free table could function,” he said.
While Australia picked up the report and put it into action, New Zealand left it on the shelf.
“Australia determined it was safe to consider opening inbound travel to New Zealand last October,” Mr Tasker said.
“It’s pleasing to see that the New Zealand government now obviously do see that conditions are conducive to some serious thinking about the possibility of opening.”
In any re-opening scenario, borders would be closed temporarily in the case of new outbreaks.