Wellington (dpa) – For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia is once again possible.
The first flight served the route between the Australian metropolis of Sydney and New Zealand’s Auckland on Monday. While New Zealanders have been able to travel to Australia without being quarantined since October, they have had to stay in isolation for two weeks on the flight back to New Zealand.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern jointly described the bilateral agreement as “unique in the world” and a “win-win situation” for both countries. In Queenstown, New Zealand on the South Island, the joy was so great that early passengers from Australia were greeted with music and free bungee jumping from the local Kawarau Bridge.
Both countries closed their borders to travelers in March 2020. Apart from a few exceptions, only their nationals and people residing in them were allowed to enter the country.
New Zealand is typical of a country in crisis due to very strict procedures and careful contact tracing. In the island nation of 4.8 million people, nearly 2,600 cases have been recorded so far, and 26 people have died in connection with Covid-19. For a long time it was pretty much normal again.
Australia is also very successful in dealing with the pandemic. So far, authorities have confirmed about 29,500 cases and 910 deaths among more than 25 million people.