Quarantine-free travel from April 19 . . .
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced New Zealand will lift quarantine requirements for travellers originating in Australia starting on April 19. Upon arrival, travellers will be required to give contact details while they are in New Zealand and will need to download and use the New Zealand COVID tracing app, but COVID vaccines will not be required. While New Zealanders have been allowed to fly without quarantine restrictions to Australia since October 2020, travellers from Australia had been required to complete a 14-day stay in an approved managed isolation quarantine facility, which affected business and family-related travel as well as tourism.
The ‘traffic light’ approach . . .
Quarantine-Free Travel (QFT) will operate using a three-tiered ‘traffic light’ system on a state-by-state basis, with Australian states being identified with different colours depending on the status and severity of any outbreaks. The green tier indicates flights may proceed without restrictions, the orange tier allows for flights to be paused for up to 72 hours, and the red tier indicates flights may be suspended for an indefinite period. QFT is essentially a framework for the New Zealand government to restrict travel with individual Australian states in line with the assessed risk, just as Australia has done when pausing quarantine-free travel with New Zealand for short durations during a handful of instances of COVID-19 community spread in recent months.
An incremental economic opening . . .
The travel bubble is possible as both Australia and New Zealand have been extraordinarily successful in stopping the spread of COVID-19, applying tough domestic lockdowns and strict quarantine measures for international travellers. Unsurprisingly, tourism operators and airlines are excited about the changes. Early indications are that Air New Zealand will soon be operating at up to 70 per cent of its pre-COVID capacity on Australian routes, with similar expectations for other airlines operating Australia-New Zealand routes. And while tourists from Australia and New Zealand will not replace the millions of international visitors not making the trek Down Under on account of COVID-19 restrictions, every little bit helps.
- 9 News: Quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand to start on April 19
- New Zealand Herald: New Zealand and Australia travel bubble to begin on April 19 - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; Air NZ 'run off our feet'
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Open before Anzac Day: Morrison says NZ bubble ‘first of many more steps’