IT’S HAPPENING – A date has been set for the trans-Tasman bubble

Pack your bags, because we are finally leaving Aussie soil. Jacinda Arden has set 19 April as the commencement date for the trans-Tasman bubble.

The announcement was made at a press conference following a meeting of the New Zealand Cabinet on 6 April.

The trans-Tasman bubble will allow people to travel between Australia and New Zealand without a 14-day quarantine requirement.

trans-Tasman bubble
Queenstown Hill, New Zealand. Image from Unsplash by Omer Faruk Oekdemir

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After a few false starts, we all finally have a firm date to make our travel plans, 11:59pm 18 April to be exact.

It ends a year-long period where travel between the two countries was more restricted than ever before.

“We are world leading,” said Ardern.

What are the protocols?

Ardern has warned that quarantine-free travel will not be what it was pre-COVID-19.

“On arrival, passengers will be taken through what we call the green zones at the airport – meaning there will be no contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine,” said Chris Hipkins, NZ Minister for COVID-19 Response.

  • Travellers must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14 days
  • Travellers must not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • Passengers must provide comprehensive contact information
  • Travellers must complete a pre-departure health declaration
  • Passengers won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms
  • You will be required to wear a mask
  • Passengers will be subject to random temperature checks
trans-tasman travel bubble news
Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

What happens if there is an outbreak in Australia or New Zealand?

Ardern has warned there is an element of “flyer beware” when it comes to the trans-Tasman bubble – meaning travel at your own risk.

“We may have scenarios where travel will shut down one way. It may therefore leave travellers – for a period of time – stranded on either side of the Tasman,” said Ardern.

Ardern is laying out a framework of rules for scenarios that may impact travellers if cases were to pop up.

“Just as we have our alert level settings for managing cases in New Zealand, we will also now have a framework for managing New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia, which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause, suspend,” said Ardern.

Ardern says travellers should “listen to local advice” in the case of an outbreak either in Australia or New Zealand.

Can I travel anywhere in Australia or New Zealand?

Ardern has said that they will be taking a state-by-state approach.

So it was always possible some states would be included in the trans-Tasman bubble but not others.

While initially, Ardern had been working towards a New Zealand – Australia arrangement, the state by state arrangement allows a level of flexibility.

“It does mean we have the ability if we believe it safe to do so, to potentially pause or suspend flights in one state whilst, if another state remains unaffected, continuing travel there,” said Ardern.

Views of the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges © @scotthowes

Do I need to be vaccinated to travel?

No. Ms Ardern said there will be no vaccine requirement for travel under the trans-Tasman bubble.

When can I book my flights?

Pretty much straight away.

Air New Zealand is offering daily flights between Auckland and Sydney and Auckland and Melbourne from this Friday 9 April.

Air New Zealand had also announced the launch of a Hobart and Auckland route once quarantine-free travel was up and running.

Be on the lookout. We expect other airlines to start running flights between Australia and NZ very soon, following today’s announcement.

This is a developing story. We’ll give updates as we learn more.

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