As we countdown to 2021, here’s something for travelers to look forward to—a two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2021. If all goes as planned and COVID-19 numbers remain low in both countries, a launch date will be announced early next year.
This news comes as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made her final post-Cabinet press conference before the holiday season, where she revealed plans to initiate the travel bubble with Australia. Currently, the one-way travel bubble launched in October allowed travellers departing New Zealand to be exempted from Australia’s 14-day quarantine but not vice-versa. She noted: ““We would need to know how we’re dealing with the internal borders with Australia and also we would have to have the airlines ready. We are quite keen to see segregated airline staff for quarantine-free travel.”
While COVID-19 rates have been higher in Australia than New Zealand, cases have dropped drastically in the recent weeks, prompting the gradual easing of restrictions.
Greg Hunt, Australia’s Minister for Health, said: “We welcome the advice from New Zealand — it’s the second half of the equation. We consciously opened up Australia to people coming from New Zealand because their case numbers were negligible, and we knew there would come a time when our case numbers would give them confidence.
“Families can be back together in both directions, friends can be back together in both directions, and flights can be full in both directions — which is good for the economy, good for our airlines, and good for both countries.”