New Zealand plans to open to Australians in early 2021

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Wellington (AFP)

New Zealand hopes to open a travel bubble with Australia by April next year and is working to finalize necessary anti-coronavirus border measures, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Ardern said the New Zealand cabinet had agreed “in principle” to open a trans-Tasman travel bubble in the first quarter of 2021, provided there is no major viral outbreak in one. or the other country.

“We intend to appoint a date for the start of trans-Tasmanian journeys without quarantine in the New Year, once the remaining details are locked down,” she told reporters.

New Zealand closed its borders in March and since then all international arrivals, including Australians, have had to undergo two weeks of managed isolation.

The country has been widely praised for its strict management of the coronavirus which has caused only 25 deaths out of a population of five million.

Ardern said she would not allow unnecessary risks to be taken to reopen travel with Australia, which before the pandemic was the biggest source of foreign visitors to New Zealand.

She said a key consideration was how to prevent border facilities from being overwhelmed in the event of a major virus outbreak in Australia that caused thousands of visiting New Zealanders to rush home.

“It’s not a guess – there have been several (outbreaks in Australia),” she said.

“We would need to make arrangements to potentially bring thousands of New Zealanders back to New Zealand in numbers that we couldn’t necessarily manage in isolation. ”

Australia has allowed non-quarantine travel for arrivals to New Zealand since October, but New Zealand has not reciprocated, maintaining its 14-day quarantine.

Over the weekend, New Zealand announced a similar plan for a travel bubble with the Small Cook Islands in the Pacific in the first quarter of next year.

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