Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand will commence at 11.59pm on 18 April.
“Cabinet was presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met,” Ardern said.
“The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand to now be low, and that quarantine-free travel would be safe to commence.”
Ardern announced a framework for managing the travel bubble should there be an outbreak in Australia.
If a case is found that is clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, travel will likely continue.
However, if a case is found that is not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, flights would likely be paused from that state.
If there are multiple cases of unknown origin, flights would likely be suspended for a set period of time.
“In each situation travellers in an affected state should expect two things,” Ardern said.
“First, they must follow the guidelines locally. Second, when travel does resume and they’re able to come to New Zealand again, they could be asked to do one of four things depending on the risk.
“Either, simply monitor their symptoms on return. Two, take a test before they depart. Three, isolate on arrival. Or four, possibly, in some situations, go into managed isolation for up to 14 days.”
Ardern has warned that anyone choosing to travel between Australia and New Zealand will do so at their own risk should there be a COVID outbreak in either country.
The prime minister also provided a snapshot of what a traveller coming from Australia to New Zealand can expect.
When those in Australia make the decision to come to New Zealand, they’ll be making a booking on what is called a ‘green zone flight’, on which there’ll be no passengers who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days.
They will also be flown from crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time.
Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand.
They won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms.
Passengers will be required to wear masks on flights and will be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app.
Upon arrival, passengers will go through ‘green zones’ at the airport, where there’ll be no contact with those arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine facilities.
There will also be random temperature checks for passengers.
It comes after Air New Zealand ramped up its flight schedule from the 19 April, adding an extra 19 return flights between Auckland and Sydney.
Airlines in both countries have increased their operations, rehiring and retraining cabin crew and airport staff.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders, the trans-Tasman route one of the world’s busiest international corridors. There were 47,555 flights between Australia and New Zealand each year, carrying 7.27 million passengers.