Speaking at a press conference in Canberra on Friday, McCormack said Australian states and territories that apply Commonwealth-approved travel restrictions could be included in the new arrangements.
For now, the travel bubble will only include New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It will start at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, October 16.
McCormack said New Zealanders who had not been in a coronavirus hotspot in the previous 14 days would be allowed to enter Australia without having to self-isolate. Under the existing rules, anyone who flies into Australia must undergo a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine, at their own expense.
“This is the first step in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasmanian bubble between the two countries, not just this state and this territory,” McCormack said.
“I just called the (Northern Territory) Chief Minister (Michael) Gunner, who said the fish bites and the beers are cold. And he wants to see as many of his New Zealand cousins and friends as possible. ”
Australian politicians seem more in love with the idea than those across Tasman.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that New Zealanders who accept Australia’s offer will still need to self-quarantine upon their return.
“We will not open the borders to travel without quarantine with Australia until it is safe to do so, because doing so too early risks losing all the freedoms we already have in our economy,” a- she declared.
Ardern said it was a matter of safety and she encouraged New Zealanders to “spend their money here locally”.
New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus infections in the world, with just 1,848 total confirmed cases, while Australia is still working to control an outbreak in its second largest city of Melbourne. Discussions about a possible travel bubble have been ongoing since at least May.
McCormack said the Australian Department of Health has determined New Zealand has a “low risk” of transmitting Covid-19 in Australia.
The Deputy Prime Minister said this new travel bubble would free up space for nearly 325 passengers per week to enter quarantine in Sydney so more Australians abroad can return home. For months, the Australian government has imposed caps on the number of citizens allowed to fly into the country to ease the strain on the hotel quarantine system. Thousands of people are still trapped abroad.
At present, New Zealand’s borders are closed to international travelers under restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. McCormack said it would be up to Ardern to decide whether or not to make exceptions for Australians.
“If (New Zealand Prime Minister) Jacinda Ardern… wants Australians to visit New Zealand, then it will be up to her and New Zealand to decide how these arrangements can be put in place and under what conditions.” , McCormack said.
Under the Commonwealth Coronavirus Hotspot System, developed by Acting Australian Health Director Paul Kelly, a city is considered a ‘Covid-19 hotspot’ if it has an average of 10 locally acquired coronavirus cases over three days, or at least 30 cases over three consecutive days.
For rural or regional areas, the number is lower – a three-day average of three cases of locally acquired coronavirus, or nine cases over three days.
McCormack said South Australia would likely be the next state to adhere to the definition, although he could not confirm it.