Australia has finalised a trans-Tasman bubble deal that will see Kiwis allowed to cross the ditch without having to quarantine on arrival.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed those who travel to Australia in the coming weeks will still need to complete 14 days of managed isolation on their return, and pay the $3100 quarantine fee.
From October 16, New Zealanders who have not been in a designated Covid-19 hotspot in the past 14 days will be able to travel into New South Wales and the Northern Territory, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Friday.
The arrangement will initially be one-way, with Australians not able to travel to New Zealand.
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“This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries not just that state and that territory,” McCormack said.
McCormack said it was for Ardern to determine how New Zealand might welcome and manage Australians coming into the country.
Ardern said earlier on Friday Australia’s plans to open its borders might be “their prerogative”, but New Zealand was still not ready for quarantine-free travel from Australia.
“I want New Zealanders to keep in mind that even if Australia [opens up its borders], that doesn’t mean they won’t have to go into quarantine on return. In fact, at this stage they will,” she said during a press conference on Friday.
”In our view, we are not ready to have quarantine-free travel with Australia. They have a very different strategy to us, and so they’re making that decision and that is their prerogative, but for now, we of course have to keep New Zealanders safe.”
Following the news across the Tasman, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed that remained the government’s position.
New Zealanders who travelled to Australia would still need to have the appropriate managed isolation booking upon return, spend two weeks in managed isolation, and pay the fee which applies to anyone who left New Zealand after August 11.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran said that while this was only a one-way arrangement and those returning to New Zealand would still need to quarantine for 14 days, it was “a positive step towards opening up a Tasman bubble”.
“Kiwis wanting to reconnect with families and friends in Northern Territory and New South Wales will welcome this news, and we look forward to hearing more about a complete Tasman safe zone soon.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier alluded the limited travel bubble was imminent, telling a radio station on Thursday they hoped to “be able to move on that very soon”, but he had suggested New South Wales and South Australia would be the first states to open to Kiwis.
Quarantine-free travel to and from Australia has been off-limits since March, when New Zealand’s border was closed due to Covid-19.
While a trans-Tasman bubble has been discussed for months, Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak, which was identified in June, put the plans on ice.