Although some Australian regions were allowing New Zealanders to visit without quarantine, New Zealand had not yet reciprocated.
Pacific.- Australia and New Zealand have finally agreed on the procedure to establish a mutual travel bubble that will begin in early 2021.
As New Zealand has practically eliminated Covid-19 from its territory by shutting borders, many Australian regions have already been allowing New Zealanders in without quarantine requirements since October.
New Zealand did not reciprocate, and negotiations between the two countries on the proposed travel bubble have been ongoing for several months.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the cabinet had agreed in principle to a trans-Tasman, quarantine-free travel bubble pending confirmation by Australia’s cabinet.
Ardern said that more work was needed to ensure safe travel and that New Zealand would move cautiously to finalise arrangements for the management of airline crews. She said a date for implementation could be expected around New Year after details are ironed out.
The bubble is expected to commence during the first quarter of 2021, nearly a year after New Zealand locked down its borders.
Australia also closed its international borders early in the pandemic and apart from New Zealanders, still only allows entry to returning Australians.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told media the bubble was “good for the economy, good for our airlines and good for both countries.”
Despite the progress, casinos in New Zealand are not expecting to return to normal activity by 2022.
Last week, New Zealand struck its first pact on a reciprocal, quarantine-free travel bubble, agreeing to open up travel with the Cook Islands by March.