In front of check-in kiosks at Sydney International Airport, on Monday, April 19, Sue Grokot teeters between laughter and tears. In a few hours, she will be landing in Auckland and meeting her one-year-old grandson for the first time. Australia and New Zealand, whose international borders have been closed since March 2020, opened in the same morning a “travel bubble” allowing residents of the two countries to travel to either side of the country. Tasman Sea without compelling reasons or quarantine hotel. “The beginning of a new chapter in our response to Covid-19 and for our recovery”On April 6, she received the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
The two neighbors that adopted a zero-tolerance strategy towards SARS-CoV-2 succeeded in eliminating the spread of the virus on their soil and returning to normal life – without masks and with very little physical distancing – but at the cost of unprecedented isolation. For more than a year, their borders have been closed to non-resident foreigners and anyone arriving on their territory is subject to mandatory, paid quarantine at the hotel.
Moreover, in Australia, citizens can only leave their country if there are substantial reasons, after obtaining an exception from the authorities. Since October 2020, Canberra has opened its territory to New Zealanders, but the opposite has not been true, and Wellington has maintained a two-week procedure for the return of the “Kiwi” to the archipelago after staying on the island – the continent.
Re-launch tourism in New Zealand
Having repeatedly rejected the possibility of creating a health corridor, the New Zealand government finally ruled in early April that “Danger [était] as low as possible.”. Now citizens of both countries can move freely and without prior testing. But this “bubble” can be suspended immediately if cases of unknown origin are detected on both sides of the Tasman Sea.
Hundreds of people gathered at Sydney Airport on Monday. “Finally I will be able to find my daughter. We are all part of the same big family. I never would have imagined that one day the borders between our two countries would be closed”Diana, retired, says. Australian airlines Qantas and Jetstar hope to operate up to 122 flights per week. Air New Zealand up to 300.
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