New Zealand travel bubble has not burst

Australia and New Zealand will still progress towards a travel bubble despite recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy dashed the hopes of many travellers this week when he told the ABC international travel was not expected to resume in 2021.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he said.

New Zealand travel bubble
Mount Hutt New Zealand.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus. 

“And it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time.”

NZ travel bubble

But it seems that statement does not apply to New Zealand.

In December, the NZ cabinet agreed to establish a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of 2021.

“It is our intention to name a date … in the new year, once remaining details are locked down,” NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

New Zealand travel
South Island New Zealand Credit: Kate Antamanova

NZ authorities are closely monitoring the situation in Australia. But the current outbreaks have not stopped the plan for a New Zealand travel bubble.

In a statement to The Guardian this week, NZ Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the Australia NZ travel bubble would still go ahead.

“The health and border requirements for a Trans-Tasman Safe Travel Zone will be strict,” he said.

“Officials are completing further readiness work, including contingency planning for an outbreak in either country after a Safe Travel Zone commences.”

Auckland, New Zealand: Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island New Zealand

A decision on the New Zealand travel bubble start date would “be made early this year, as conditions allow”, Hipkins said.

New Zealanders can already travel to Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory without having to self-isolate on arrival. But the bubble does not yet work in the opposite direction.

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