WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
New Zealand, Australia to open COVID-19 travel bubble with safe corridor
Published: Apr 06, 2021 05:08 PM
New Zealand has approved quarantine-free travel with Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday, completing a two-way corridor for travel between the largely COVID-19-free neighbors.

"I can confirm that quarantine-free travel will begin in just under two weeks, at 11:59pm on April 18," Ardern announced after the date was confirmed by her cabinet.

The travel bubble comes more than a year after New Zealand closed its doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and six months after Australia allowed Kiwis to fly into selected states without the need to quarantine. 

Ardern described it as a world leading move between New Zealand, with just 26 COVID-19 deaths in a population of five million, and Australia with fewer than 1,000 deaths in a population of 25 million. 

"I cannot see or point to any countries in the world that are maintaining a strategy of keeping their countries COVID-19-free whilst opening up international travel between each other," she said. "That means in a way we are world leading."

"I very much appreciate the arrangement the New Zealand government has come to today," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference.

"We welcome them back as indeed Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies."

However, just hours before Ardern's announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be at least another month before he could allow holidays abroad.

New Zealand's beleaguered tourism industry said the long-awaited bubble could inject up to 1 billion NZ dollars ($705 million) into the economy in 2021.

The nation is a popular holiday destination and its COVID-19-crippled tourism industry has been pressing for months to have quarantine-free travel for Australians, who make up about 40 percent of international visitors.

One of the hurdles in setting up the two-way corridor has been sporadic outbreaks of community transmission in both countries, with Australia repeatedly suspending quarantine-free travel from New Zealand due to virus outbreaks in Auckland.
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