Looks like the long expected travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is finally going to happen—sort of. Beginning October 16, New Zealand citizens will be able to visit NSW and the Northern Territory without being forced to quarantine for two weeks.
The announcement was made Friday by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who said mitigation efforts have been successful and that allowing travel from New Zealand will help get the country’s struggling economy back on its feet.
“The establishment of a travel zone between Australia and New Zealand has been finalised,” McCormack told reporters. “This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries, stopping not just at that state and that territory.”
McCormack added that he recently spoke with Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
“I have just gotten off the phone with Chief Minister Gunner who says the fish are biting and the beers are cold, and he wants to see as many of his New Zealand cousins and friends as possible.”
NSW has done well to limit the spread of Covid-19, with a total of 14 new infections being reported over the last two weeks. NT, meanwhile, hasn’t reported a new infection since the beginning of August.
As for New Zealand, their last new case was reported August 21. They have no current “hotspots,” according to McCormack, who said people traveling to Australia from New Zealand represent “a low risk of Covid-19 transmission.”
With that said, the bubble is only going to include one way traffic. Australians are still not allowed to travel to New Zealand, and New Zealanders returning from a visit to Australia will be obliged to quarantine for 14 days.
Tourism from New Zealand is a considerable revenue source for the Aussie economy, which is officially in a recession after contracting 7 percent in the June quarter. Reuters reports that in 2019, New Zealand tourists spent $2.6 billion in Australia.
McCormack said other countries may soon follow New Zealand into the bubble, though declined to say which ones.