Jacinda Ardern has announced that a two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble will commence at 11.59pm on Sunday April 18.
The travel bubble means that quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand will be allowed, with Arden saying the arrangement makes the two countries “relatively unique” compared to other countries around the world.
Ardern explained that the arrangement will see New Zealand manage the travel bubble by treating Australia as a region of its own, and any future restrictions due to a COVID-19 outbreak would be instated on a state-by-state basis.
Ardern also said there would likely be little or no warning about incoming restrictions, so travellers must be prepared for the possibility their travel would be restricted at any point in time.
“While we absolutely wish to encourage family and friends to reunite and visitors to come and enjoy the hospitality New Zealand is ready and waiting to offer, those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so you were the guidance of flyer beware. People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” Ardern said.
Anyone travelling from Australia to New Zealand will need to book a “green zone flight”.
“That means there’ll be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days. They will also be flown from crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time,” Ardern said.
“Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand. They won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms. When they fly, they will be required to wear a mask on a flight and will also be asked to download and use the NZ Covid tracer app for use in New Zealand.
“On arrival, passengers will be taken through what we’ll call ‘the green zones’ at the airport meaning there’ll be no contact with those arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine facilities. We will also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving as an extra precaution.
Ardern gave a couple of examples of how New Zealand might respond, if an outbreak of COVID-19 occured.
“If a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you’ll likely see travel continue in the same way as you could see life continue if that happened here in Australia,” she said.
“If, however, a case was found that was not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we’d likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand as if it was were going into a full lockdown.”
Ardern said it was likely there would be little or no warning if new travel restrictions come into place, and that it is important both countries reserved their ability to move quickly to restrict movement if an outbreak occurs.
“There is no requirement for either side to give written, formal notice before a decision is made,” she said.
“Because one of the important things we want to preserve on both sides is the ability for us to move quickly. That’s how we protect our position and look after everyone’s public health. We expect that will happen on both sides.”