New Zealand and Australia will allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries starting April 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.
Ardern called the new arrangement the Trans-Tasman bubble.
"The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out," Adern said at a press briefing Tuesday.
It's the first time since the pandemic required travel restrictions and border closures that conditions have been met allowing for passengers to fly between Australia and New Zealand without needing a 14-day quarantine.
Australia and New Zealand have controlled the COVID-19 outbreak better than many other developed nations. Both countries closed their international borders to non-citizens early in the pandemic helping them to contain the virus' spread.
Officials have recorded relatively low confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus in both countries. Australia has recorded about 29,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic started. New Zealand has recorded 2,168 confirmed cases and 26 deaths.
Ardern cautioned travel will still not return to what it was pre-pandemic.
"Those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of 'flyer beware,'" she said. "People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak."
Passengers hopping on flights to Australia as well as the airlines and airports facilitating the travel must abide by other new travel rules.
Quarantine-free trips will be called "green zone flights."
"That means that there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days," Ardern said.
Passengers on such flights will be brought through designated green zones at the airport, meaning there will be no contact with other people traveling from other parts of the world and who are headed into isolation or quarantine.
Other guidelines rules for quarantine-free air travel include:
- To be eligible, people must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-days and must not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test during that period
- Green zone flights will be flown by crew who have not flown on any high risk routes for a set period of time
- Passengers must provide comprehensive contact information while in New Zealand and complete a pre-departure health declaration
- Travel won't be allowed if passengers have cold or flu symptoms
- Passengers must wear a mask on their flight
- Travelers must download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand
- Random temperature checks of those arriving
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