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Australia-New Zealand travel bubble agreed to in principle for early 2021

Australia-New Zealand travel bubble agreed to in principle for early 2021

Australia-New Zealand travel bubble agreed to in principle for early 2021

Jacinda Ardern has announced that her cabinet has agreed in principle to a quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand in the first quarter of 2021.

The New Zealand prime minister said this was contingent on decisions by the Australian cabinet and no significant change in the circumstances in either country in regards to outbreaks of the coronavirus. She has said that one of the criteria will be 28 days free of community transmission.

She said more preparations need to take place including creating a contingency plan in case there is another outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.

She did not give a prospective date for the travel bubble, saying a date will be announced next year when more plans have been put in place.

Logistical issues that need to be worked through include segregation of staff at airports, and implementing a plan for where returnees would isolate if they needed to come back to New Zealand in the event of a community outbreak.

The prime minister said a lot of the planning will come down to the airlines, with COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins saying the airlines have indicated they need a notice period.

“You’ll be aware they grounded a lot of their fleets. They have a lot of crew not currently working so they need the opportunity to bring them back and get them current again,” he said.

“We have been clear we want to see separation between crews who are working in the safe zone versus crews working elsewhere, so that requires logistical rearranging for them.”

Hipkins said he will go to Auckland Airport tomorrow to consider how the operational separation of passengers could take place.

Putting a plan in place for quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands will be prioritised over the Australia travel bubble, Ardern said.

It comes after New Zealand and the Cook Islands agreed to opening a travel bubble by the end of March, with one-way quarantine-free travel to New Zealand to occur first to allow people from the Cook Islands to access essential services in New Zealand.

 

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