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Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia to begin on April 19

Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia to begin on April 19
Image sourced from Flickr

A trans-Tasman bubble will become operational on Monday, April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

This means people will be able to travel between New Zealand and Australia without quarantining.

However, if there are unlinked cases of COVID-19 found in Australia, travel to and from affected states "may" be either paused for up to 72 hours or suspended for an extended period.

People travelling to New Zealand from affected states may have to get a COVID-19 test before departing. They may also be asked to self-isolate on arrival and may have to go into managed isolation. 

Ardern warned: “Quarantine-free travel will not be what it was pre-COVID-19, and those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’. People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak.”

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said people who test positive for COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to a trip, will not be able to travel, nor will people awaiting a test result.

Only those who have been in Australia in the 14 days prior to departing Australia will be able to travel. In other words, someone who arrived in Australia from another country will have to stay in Australia for at least 14 days before travelling.

They will also be flown by air crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time.

“Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand, complete a pre-departure health declaration and won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms," Hipkins said.

“When they fly, they will be required to wear a mask on their flight, and will also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.

“On arrival, passengers will be taken through what we call the green zones at the airport - meaning there will be no contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine.

“We will also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving as an added precaution.

“Final infection control audits for airports in particular are occurring over the next two weeks and are a requirement for each airport to operate. The Ministry of Health expects to have completed these and to have reported on them on 16 April.”

Ardern said there were no firm plans to open travel bubbles beyond the Cook Islands and Niue. 

For more information, see the below table, included in this document

Govt considering decommissioning managed isolation facilities 

Hipkins is tempering expectations the trans-Tasman bubble will free up lots more space in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Of the 1000 to 1300 rooms that will become available per fortnight, about 500 will be kept free should they be needed for the trans-Tasman arrangement.

The remaining 500 to 800 won’t necessarily be made available to other travellers (including returning kiwis, critical workers, or family of critical workers), as the Government is considering closing facilities that have to date only accommodated people from low-risk countries.

Hipkins said: “With the opening of travel, we will look to decommission these facilities - but in the meantime we are considering whether they could be used for other low risk countries, such as the Pacific Islands.

“As a result of this, we do not anticipate a large number of vacant quarantine spaces to come on stream.”

To date, around 130,000 people have gone through managed isolation facilities.

Tourism group says Aussie tourists could spend $1b in NZ by the end of the year

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive, Chris Roberts, expected Australian visitors to collectively spend at least $1 billion in New Zealand by the end of the year - all going to plan.

In normal times, they spend nearly $3 billion, which is equivalent to about a quarter of the international tourist spend in New Zealand.

Roberts said the bubble announcement should benefit ski towns in particular, with more than 70% of overseas skiers in New Zealand being from Australia in normal times.

But he cautioned the speed at which Australians resume travel to New Zealand is unknown.

“Surveys have shown there is pent up demand for travel and Australians have no other options for international travel at present,” Roberts said.

“But we anticipate that there will be some initial caution on both sides of the Tasman. We expect that people reuniting with family and friends will lead the way, followed by business people and holidaymakers.”

Roberts said that pre-COVID-19, about a third of arrivals from Australia were kiwis, many of whom were returning to visit family.

Arrivals from Australia tend to stay for a shorter period and spend less while here than visitors from New Zealand’s other major international markets, he said.

Roberts said a marketing campaign would now get underway in Australia. He said tourism operators in New Zealand could start taking bookings with confidence and scaling up their staffing levels.

National wants more bubbles

National Party Leader Judith Collins said: “I want to thank the more than 45,000 people who signed National’s petition and supported our call to get the trans-Tasman bubble open. It’s clear the Government needed to be jolted into action on this...

“National believes the Government should be allowing quarantine-free travel from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji into New Zealand, alongside our realm countries.

“This would have a similar benefit of reconnecting families as well as the added economic benefit of rescuing New Zealand’s horticulture industry by increasing the size of our Recognised Seasonal Workers (RSE) scheme.

“It’s time the Government laid out its roadmap for reconnecting our economy and people to the world.”

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92 Comments

Ardern should send Scomo a consultants fee for managing the opening the new trans tasman arrangements.

Covid deaths per million - Australis 35.84 - New Zealand 5.29
Numbers speak for themselves who the best managers are, but predict a outbreak soon as those dirty Ozis flood the country.

Covid deaths per million - Australis 35.84 - New Zealand 5.29

Call it a tie. Adjusted for population and margin error.

What margin of error? An error diagnosing death?

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LOL. "Per million" IS the adjustment for population

New Zealanders will be priced out of Queenstown again!
Prices will start going up again.

Gee Queenstown off the menu now along with avocados and ferraris ... only for the super rich

Don't forget that luxurious item, housing!!!

Given that each Australian state has a different approach, surely a state by state comparison with NZ would be better? If that is done, have some states done better than NZ?

yes Western australia has had just 9 deaths or 3.37 deaths per million

I recon that Auckland will be back in lock down after two weeks of the trans Tasman bubble is open, having substantial new cases if covid out in our community. The Australians have no Covid quarantine for new arrivals in to Oz, like we do. And I doubt that the 2 week stand off period in to NZ is going to be sufficient in keeping out the virus.

there goes my skiiing trip this year.

Seems premature when there are still outbreaks and lockdowns in Aussie and vaccination hasn't kicked off. Political pressure must be intense

Ah...., Auckland was in lockdown twice in the last few weeks, for an outbreak which we never found the source, or managed well.

In fact, our contact tracing was pathetic, at 60%, not the 'Gold standard' of 80% within the first 48 hours. Our MoH didn't even contact some people for a week because they didn't answer their phone, or give clear instructions on whether to isolate.

We have more to worry about for our own incompetence, not the aussies. They should worry about us.

That's what I think too. I think this is premature

The good thing is that what you and others like you think, is irrelevant... do you even consider how others such as tourism business owners, or people trying to see their loved ones feel or are affected by the borders remaining shut. No of course you dont. So long as you get YOUR paycheque and are not affected you maintain your opposition and hoping to jinx this

Actually I do care, and you may recall from way back I suggested that our approach was too heavy handed.
However, we have come so far with this approach so I would like to see it out. Couldn't we have waited a couple more months for wider vaccination to occur?

If a new variant cuts loose in New Zealand, nobody will be getting a paycheck. Its way to early to open the boarders end of story. The only way we can reopen is when over half of New Zealanders have been vaccinated, not before. This is just plain stupid but what else did you expect from Labour ? We continue to run on dumb luck but sooner or later its going to run out.

Not your usual self today Carlos, how is toe-runga?

Still Covid free and its going to be a much better place to be than Auckland when plane loads of people start flying in. We generally get 1 level less of lockdown should it happen and we are just far enough south of Bombay to stay in the "Green Zone" when the shit hits the fan.

There it is. There it probably was too some weeks back because not much has been different in the interim. This decision is born out of political necessity spurred by a blunt retort, elbow jolt actually, by the Australian PM to our one accusing Australia of the being the delayer and also a rising tide of public disenchantment with the government’s action or lack thereof. Unfortunately it is difficult to dismiss the notion that our government harbours much anxiety about NZ’s ability to contain any community transmissions that may now occur and in that regard the vaccination program having reached far further would have been of some comfort and that appears to have been another inhibiting factor up until now.One has to ask why it hasn’t then.

to our one accusing Australia of the being the delayer

Because they were. NZ began negotiating a joint arrangement where both countries would agree to and work together on any community outbreaks, so as to minimise the chance of travellers being stranded in the other country. Effectively avoiding the 72 hour travel pause that this plan has outlined.

After 11 rounds of negotiation on this approach, Australia pulled out of the arrangement in February. If they didn't want the system they could have signalled it much sooner.

Similarly last year Australia was adamant that any agreement with NZ had to be for the whole country, not for individual states. Now they've reversed on that too, and the arrangement is effectively between NZ and individual states.

So yes, it is Australia that has mucked this situation up, not NZ. Don't forget that currently Australian residents are mostly banned from travelling overseas at all as well, unlike NZers.

Aye, having taken a few, can testify elbow jolts are nether discretionary nor always deserved.They can achieve their intended purpose though, yes indeedy they can.

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If this causes even one additional lockdown, is it worth it? Why not limit it to vaccinated people only and extend the net to other low risk countries? Or just wait until we have been vaccinated?

In total agreement with you JJ - perhaps the pressure from the rent lords selling up and heading overseas is true not just a threat?

You can still travel to Fiji by boat, just need to take 12 days, with all the hot air flowing from landlords of late, 12 days may be problematic.

Believe the prudent likely to err on the side of caution and not travel until vaccinated. Unfortunately the opposite minded are the risk takers and unheeding, more likely to spread or leave reporting symptoms too late.

Vaccination will not stop the virus. It will prevent to get sick in majority of the cases. The person that is vaccinated will still spread the virus.

Back in February the Oxford Astrazeneca boffins were advising it could prevent transmission by 67%. One hopes “could” might have been replaced by a stronger word by now. Anything positive in this regard would obviously be welcome news, as think this is the main goer for Australia?

Yes, that is what the evidence currently says, however epidemiologists are expecting that once the data is in, it will show that the vaccines are very effective (perhaps 70-80%) at preventing onwards transmission as well.

Just the data isn't in yet. Seems to be taking a while, but it will eventually be known.

Surely someone who is not coughing and sneezing will spread the virus much less than someone who is.

Well yes and no. Australia is very low risk - as National pointed out, Australians staying in NZ MIQ are at far higher risk of catching COVID than Australians in Australia are.

On the other hand, all of these tourism companies that are expecting this bubble to be their saviour are probably going to be disappointed, at least in the short term. It is likely that the initial waves of people travelling are going to be friends and family wanting to reunite, not people wanting to splash out on a tourist holiday.

Low risk is not no risk. By letting the Aussies in we are effectively adopting the same risk profile as they have, and they do not target elimination like us. Also the rule about not travelling if you are waiting for a test result will encourage people to not get tested. Feels like we are close enough to vaccinations to not need this now. Once everyone in NZ has been offered the vaccine then fully open the border to vaccinated people.

Nothing is no risk?

Is anyone other than NZ targeting elimination?

They are not officially targeting elimination, but their response to outbreaks has pretty much been the same as ours.

So never then? At our current rate of vaccine performance, it'll be 2023 before we get to that point, a suspicious mind would think that Labour would like closed borders and frightened population until 2023 to get another COVID election.
If they could get out of their own way, and just plan and implement something, anything, but vaccines for now, then perhaps we would give them a little credit.....

JJ...you mean limit it to the 1 or 2% of our population that we have managed to vaccinate in nearly 2 months. I would guess that by the end of next month places with similar populations like Hong Kong will have completely finished their roll out.

Looks like Peter Dutton will be pleased with increasing specimens for his exhibitions.

So, why wait 2 weeks? Maybe the reason is that there will be another outbreak and the bubble will burst? It almost feel that all the efforts are to 'open the bubble' but not really open it. The 28days of 'no community transmission' is the song of the past. My view is that all visitors should do mandatory testing, residents and citizens probably not unless they feel unwell. It is going to be interesting. The only way to make it working is stop travel from other countries into NZ and Australia. The moment that travel continues it is a matter of time of another outbreak and another lockdown...

jerry...since there is no quarantine on entering Aust you can effectively go now and as long as you arrive back in NZ after 19 April your trip will be quarantine free.

Heaps of certainty. I count five 'maybes' in the two paragraphs at the start of the article. Sounds as though they're setting up a fallback position if needed.

How many times will it be suspended this year? Three times at least I guess.

Yeah, and I expect at least another 2-3 lockdowns in Auckland this year

Really? I'd probably rate it at a 30% chance for one more lockdown.

The border workers have all been vaccinated and that makes a big difference. Vaccination will be ramping up dramatically in the 2nd half of the year. The next 3-4 months are the risk zone.

Question is how many times will Auckland cause Australia to lock down their side of the bubble. Our current record is once every 3 months.

We're so far behind in the vaccine game, and we have no natural immunity thanks to elimination strategy. Let's do this.

The elimination strategy has given us a low 'natural' immunity, yes, however it also means our death rate is 5 per million and not 500+ (it's 1905 in the UK and 1691 in the US).

Good. Let's save the self congratulatory backslapping for when we're on the other side of herd immunity. Anyone can sit on an isolated island and claim victory.

Suggest despite the plaudits for the outcomes that have advantaged NZ & NZrs there remain serious questions regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the Ministry of Health. Perhaps the isolation and modest population have had more influence. For instance in the beginning an utter failure to secure rest homes leaving some of them to actually self quarantine contra to MOH directives. Then a whole lot of mixed and inaccurate messaging as to testing of border staff leaving the director himself standing on the burning deck. So today you might ask given that always, yes always with bells, if it was known NZ through the elimination strategy was going to need to rely on the inevitable vaccines if ever to rejoin the rest of the world safely and significantly, then why did forward planning not commence if only for fundamentals such as venues and drawing in from the community those with some existing skills such as retired doctors, medics, nurses, St. john’s and on and on. Why did a committee, talking group, reporting group whatever the government likes to call them only convene for serious planning in this regard in the last three months.

Well, that's a good summary. I'd add we've so sensitized the population to Covid that psychologically we are unfit to deal with the reality of actually reopening and exposing ourselves to irreducible risk. Most other countries are now used to daily infections and deaths but one community case here is a lockdown and toilet paper frenzy

How many New Zealanders do you think should be dying per day from COVID?

Did you see the article the other day showing that elimination was the best economic policy also?

So you want to kill people, and have a worse economy. Why?

Within that comment, if admittedly a tangent, what has disturbed me mostly throughout this disturbing and threatening episode in NZs history, is the number of contributors here p, and obviously out there elsewhere, who have decried the elimination strategy on the greater grounds of the greater good, that this has only been needed to protect such as the elderly and vulnerable. Supposedly those identities have had their fair innings and are expendable. Leaving aside that that sort of doctrine of survival by selection attuned itself to the like of Nazi Germany, these pundits spout statistics of so called modest mortality rate outcomes, whilst ignoring completely that those results are only as such because of protective measures undertaken. Personally, for all my doubt of this government’s capabilities, you cannot deny that they have been hugely successful in keeping the lives of NZrs safe, and if that is not the foremost duty of any government, then tell me what is.

You see? Delusional.

Asking questions you don't want to give honest answers to is delusional?

Yes, perhaps I was deluding myself thinking you wanted to have an honest discussion.

They're very simple questions. How many NZers a day do you think should be dying from COVID? Do you dispute that elimination is the best policy economically, which is what the evidence shows?

C'mon now. We all know that the "economic evidence" is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Firstly it's a sh*tty question. Secondly you conflate what I was saying about unpreparedness with dealing with realities of Covid with wanting more deaths. Which is gross. Nobody wants to see deaths, needless deaths. But death is part of the equation. Do you accept that? Do you accept that even fully vaccinated, there is still risk? Do you accept there are real health risks to people in lockdown? Do you accept that there has been an economic price we have paid for elimination which is one of the highest in the world? Will you be applying the same logic to other malaises? Will you be lobbying Pharmac about the needless deaths they create through not funding every single new cancer drug out there? Or Waka Kotahi about their acceptable death levels on every highway with no central barrier? Go get em tiger. You've set the precedent.

Firstly it's a sh*tty question.

No, it's not, it's a perfectly reasonable question. You don't think we should have gone for elimination. That means people in NZ will have COVID. That means people in NZ will be dying from COVID.

Therefore, you think it is acceptable for people in NZ to die from COVID. So it's reasonable to ask how many people you think is acceptable to be dying per day. Clearly if 5 million people were dying per day, that would be unacceptable. Probably 1 million per day also. How many is acceptable to you?

You're advocating people die from COVID in NZ, so tell us what daily death rate you would be comfortable with.

It's all very well to say "we should do X" but when the DIRECT consequence of X is Y, then I don't think it's unreasonable that you outline what about Y you find is acceptable.

Secondly you conflate what I was saying about unpreparedness with dealing with realities of Covid with wanting more deaths. Which is gross. Nobody wants to see deaths, needless deaths.

I haven't conflated anything.

But death is part of the equation. Do you accept that?

Obviously. I'm quite happy to accept our current 0-per-day death rate. You seem to not be happy with it.

Do you accept that even fully vaccinated, there is still risk?

Yes.

Do you accept there are real health risks to people in lockdown?

Yes, which is why our elimination strategy that has seen us have some of the shortest total lockdowns of anywhere in the world is the best health strategy.

Do you accept that there has been an economic price we have paid for elimination which is one of the highest in the world?

No, because the evidence says we've had one of the least economic impacts of anywhere in the world.

https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/109273/alison-brook-concludes-new-zea...

If you have other evidence, present it.

Will you be applying the same logic to other malaises?

Other maladies which are easily transmissible, have the approximate death rate as COVID-19 (or worse) and for which there is little understanding and effective treatments, little pre-existing immunity, and no vaccines, yes.

Will you be lobbying Pharmac about the needless deaths they create through not funding every single new cancer drug out there?

Cancer isn't contagious, generally, and can't be improved by putting the country in lockdown. I don't need to be lobbying pharmac in order to agree with the government's approach to COVID-19.

Or Waka Kotahi about their acceptable death levels on every highway with no central barrier?

Vehicle accidents aren't contagious. If you don't want to die on a particular road, don't drive on that road, it is 100% effective.

Go get em tiger. You've set the precedent.

You don't seem to understand the definition of "infectious pandemic disease".

If I may add to that response. Those that argue death caused to a certain sector, usually the elderly for instance, would be justified by way of precedent, by every day decisions such as life support being turned off or the unavailability of a drug, is a profound insult to the professionals and relations who have to not only make that decision but carry it out. It is a serious and grievous responsibility that is implemented person by person case by case which confronts the ethics and conscience of all involved. To say that those circumstances can be deliberately conveyed to a defined sector of society is actually abhorrent. For example you abandon the elderly because supposedly they have had their fair share of life. So then who is next. The mentally impaired because they don’t know what is going on? Paraplegics because they can’t work. There has been plenty of that sort of sorry sordid social selection in the world’s history. Not wanted in this nation, past, present and future and nor are those that promote it.

I appreciate the time and effort you take to respond. I think I'm arguing the principle and you're arguing the efficacy of the approach thus far. I was under the impression 60 billion of spending/borrowing in response to Covid, compared to NZ GDP was a higher than most countries.

I'm sure Judith Collins will feel proud of extra death toll from covid if it brings in a few more dollars.

Didn’t National under Bridges want to close the borders before the Government did?

No. Bridges caught wind of what the government was doing and "suggested" it 3 hours before the government made a formal announcement.

This is after they moaned and wailed in February about how xenophobic the government was being by banning travel from China and how it would destroy the tertiary education industry and was going against WHO advice which said the there should be no restrictions on travel.

National get no credit for their craven behaviour and the record shows that this government did go hard and early, much as some might try to have you believe otherwise.

... as I recall , around 630 doctors signed a petition to get Ardern to react , and to shut the borders down ... we went slow ... then hard .... after we had allowed direct flights from China into Orc Land ... the Covid Carrier Express ...

They went hard, but not early. This is a myth. The latter comment about doctor pressure and background lobbying played a major role in forcing the Government’s hand.

Didn’t National under Bridges also push for MIQ vs the wonderful self isolation we had at the time?

... nailed it .... Arderns crew were flopping around uselessly , till the doctors' pressure .... then , they swallowed the whole bottle of viagra and went too hard .... and hard for so long it began to hurt ... tourism needed a bubble last October , when Scomo offered it to us .... 7 months wasted ....

Great summary. The Government was slow to act, but it acted correctly when it mattered. However, at that point, the vaccine was the endgame (even John Key could see that). NZ should have worked bloody hard to obtain vaccines - yes, I know we’re at the bottom of the supply chain but not impossible - and ensure an efficient rollout. Unfortunately, given that delivery is this Government’s Achilles heel (forget about Kiwibuild, we now struggle with influenza and meningococcal) I am concerned that we will struggle to deploy the vaccine in a timely way. I hope I’m wrong.

So lockdown in 3 weeks then...

Yep, I recon you're right.

Chris Roberts, expected Australian visitors to collectively spend at least $1 billion in New Zealand by the end of the year - all going to plan.

Hmmm...seems like a good spin but I suspect the estimates are laced with hopium.

only people coming are for family reunions and maybe a little bit of business -- no one is coming to Queenstown to party for a couple of weeks and risk being stuck here or paying a shit load in quarantine - - hokum hopium

Yeah lets consider for a moment the few dollars spent by a few Aussie tourists to what its costs to put the whole country into lockdown for weeks. Head......brick wall.

Bout 3 months before everyone realises overseas tourism is a net zero game...

or worse...net negative

Yes with the extra cost of going in to repeated lock downs! Thanks Judith we know who to blame!

Some smart Aussie operators are already onto it: They're arranging special Quantas charter flight packages for kiwi FHBs. Two weeks free accommodation, food and tours of open homes. They're even laying on employment seminars and interviews for kiwi skilled workers with the proviso that recent (within the last 20 years) New Zealand immigrants are ineligible for this package as they only want skilled workers.

Streetwise, your sardonic, cynical musings are not unattractive. Many a truth spoken in jest. Not picky, but there is no U in Qantas. Auto correct outflanks me too, too often.

True its spelt Quantarse.

you left out the i

Let the brain drain begin!

Are you on the first flight Brock?

Brock drain!

Not the first flight.

We have been able to go there for months now...

Great news - economically & for extended families. And one early psychological barrier broken through.
Most cases are arriving from India, UK, & various who have transited via Middle East.
Hopefully external transitional travellers using the bubble will need to have done 14 Q+ 14 in country at least.

Ready for one more lockdown in next 2 months of opening the bubble.

Well done everyone, it only took us a year to organise one bubble! Forgive me for not joining in celebration.

At this rate even the hapless European Union will get the jump on us in terms of reopening borders.

... we're in 98'th position in the world for vaccinating our peeps .... not exactly " front of the queue " as Hipkins bragged ... forgive me for being underwhelmed by anything this government proclaims , from their " pulpit of truth " ...

Over 8 months .... of travelers direct from austr to nz... up to end of march 2021... the number infected with covid19 was.... drumroll for this bit.... three people (said quietly in hushed tones, so as not to upset the negative thinkers)

Yes I noticed a lot of cotton wool wearing Health and safety experts comments above. Keep your road cones close, and your hi vis closer.

It’s a brave new world.

Some of those planes been parked up for a while. Maybe do a couple test trip before taking people on.

Pilots likely to be a bit rusty as well.

One way travel for young qualified, certified Kiwis to OZ. And short term visit/return ticket by OZ teen youth.
The longer they stay in expensive town like Queenstown, the quicker their wallet $ disappear.