After a long wait, international travel is finally back on the cards – New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern today announced the start date for the two-way travel bubble between NZ and Australia, allowing travellers to flit back and forth between the two countries without needing to quarantine.
Travel between the two countries is set to resume from 11.59pm on Sunday April 18.
“This is an important step forward in our Covid response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world,” Ardern said in a press conference. “That is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out.”
It comes after months of one-way travel from New Zealand into Australia. The one-way travel corridor began in October last year, allowing passengers from New Zealand to arrive in Australia without having to quarantine – but they’ve still been required to quarantine for 14 days after returning to NZ. The scheme means quarantine will no longer be required on either side of travel.
This marks the first time Australians will be allowed to travel outside the country quarantine-free and without the need for exemptions.
Travellers will be asked to wear masks on the plane, and to download New Zealand’s contact-tracing app for use in the country. Ardern also clarified that there will be no vaccine requirement for travel.
Ardern made the announcement at 2pm today (AEST), but Air New Zealand has been hedging its bets – the flag-carrier airline began taking trans-Tasman bookings this morning.