By Alberto Galvi –
New Zealand will open on April 19 for travel with Australia, after the two countries have successfully stopped the spread of the coronavirus. The start of the non-quarantine journey between neighboring countries will be a respite for families separated from the epidemic and for troubled travel organizers.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said health officials believe the risk of transmission from Australia is low and that travel is now safe.
Australia had previously allowed New Zealand to arrive without going into quarantine, but New Zealand took a more cautious approach, requiring Australian travelers to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival.
Both countries have managed to keep the virus away by setting up barriers to the outside world, including strict quarantine requirements for travelers from countries where the virus is spreading.
The Australian and New Zealand airports participating in the bubble will be divided into green zones for travelers from both countries and red zones for passengers from other parts of the world, going to quarantine.
Travel bubble travelers will not be required to undergo a Covid-19 test, but they will undergo random temperature checks upon arrival in New Zealand.
The announcement comes ahead of the New Zealand ski season and has been good news for many of the resorts. Morrison is expected to travel to New Zealand soon to meet Ardern.
However, New Zealand will keep a very limited number of travelers from other countries, and thus will continue to focus on a cautious approach to the virus. The only exceptions would be the Cook Islands and Niue: at the end of 2020 New Zealand agreed to stick to a travel bubble with the Cook Islands, but has so far failed to implement it. Meanwhile, Fiji announced its goal of creating a travel bubble with other countries in the region, including Australia and New Zealand, but the idea has yet to take off.
The travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was supposed to start in November, but it was canceled just 24 hours before the first flights due to the high number of infections in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s hard work to contain the virus appears to have paid off. The country has recorded only 2,524 cases and 26 deaths since the start of the epidemic.
Airlines responded quickly by announcing a sharp increase in the number of flights and lower prices.
2019 saw an estimated 2.6 million residents of Australia and New Zealand from both countries travel from one country to another by plane.