Covid 19 coronavirus: Australia hopes for ‘more reciprocal’ travel bubble with NZ

Austraila’s chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly has high hopes that Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand could soon be reciprocated.

Travellers have been flying across the ditch over the past few months, but while people travelling from New Zealand to Australia are not required to go into quarantine, the same is not true of people travelling from Australia to New Zealand.

Kelly said Australia would “welcome New Zealanders to look at our epidemiological situation and have something more reciprocal than what we have got”. The current arrangements were successful, Kelly said, and Australia was “definitely open to other bubbles”.

“Weekly, I do a formal report to decide whether that should continue or not and we look at a range of details that come from the New Zealand Ministry of Health,” Kelly said. “That’s been very successful. We have had tens of thousands of people who have come across the ditch in the last few months and not a single case.”

Covid-19 Recovery Minister Chris Hipkins responded by saying New Zealand was looking to establish quarantine-free travel with Australia in the first quarter of 2021 but both countries will need to meet health requirements in order for it to be safe.

“Decisions on a commencement date will be made early this year, as conditions allow,” he said.

Hipkins said New Zealand officals were closely monitoring the situation in specific parts of Australia.

“Decisions about which states and territories can participate are matters for Australia,” Hipkins said.

“The implications of vaccine rollouts for border measures is something that is still being considered and it is too soon to know exactly how these will interact with each other. But both Australia and New Zealand are actively pursuing vaccination purchase and rollout strategies and we are in close contact with each other as these progress,” he said.

Hipkins said both countries were taking a similar approach to Covid-19, including a very careful approach at the border.

“The health and border requirements for a trans-Tasman Safe Travel Zone will be strict. As well, officials are completing further readiness work, including contingency planning for an outbreak in either country after a Safe Travel Zone commences.”

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