Coronavirus: Australia opens ‘travel zone’ for New Zealanders
New Zealanders must have access to Australia the first time either country opens international borders since the Covid restrictions were imposed.
People will be able to fly from New Zealand to New South Wales and the Northern Territory – and avoid the mandatory quarantine – from 16 October.
Nations have closed their borders there in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Officials say the risks are now low enough to justify a “travel bubble”.
“The creation of una zona de viaje between Australia and New Zealand has been finalized,” said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
“This is the first step in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasmanian bubble between the two countries, not stopping just at this state and territory.”
At first, travel will be limited to New Zealanders.
Mr McCormack said the decision on when Australians might visit New Zealand would rest with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
He said Australia had assessed New Zealand visitors as “low risk of Covid-19 transmission” as it currently has no “hot spots.”
Australia defines a hot spot as any area with at least three local infections per day on a three-day moving average, it added.
The most recent case acquired locally in New Zealand was reported on August 21.
The Northern Territory of Australia has not registered an infection in two months. New South Wales, which includes Sydney, has not seen a case of local transmission since last week.
Australia’s federal government has pushed for national and international borders to be reopened “as soon as possible” to help the economy, but some state governments, which have power over their own borders, have been more resilient.
Victoria remains isolated from the rest of Australia, following an outbreak in the state capital Melbourne that is now on the decline.
New Zealand has recorded 1,848 cases and 25 deaths, while Australia has seen more than 27,000 cases and 888 deaths.