New Zealand and Australia to Launch Travel Bubble in Early 2021


The Cabinet of New Zealand has agreed in principle to launch a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia in early 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a media briefing on Dec. 14.

Ardern acknowledged that some issues still need to be worked out, including contingency plans in the event of a community outbreak and segregation of crew members from “safe zone” areas and those from countries still affected by COVID-19.

Ardern also said that the travel bubble still needs confirmation from the Australian Cabinet and that either country has to maintain its COVID-19 situation.

“It is our intention to name a date … in the new year, once remaining details are locked down,” Ardern said

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that he planned to head to the Auckland airport on Dec. 15 to see how it will conduct the segregation of passengers.

“We have been clear we want to see separation between crews who are working in the safe zone versus crews working elsewhere, so that requires logistical rearranging for them,” Hipkins said.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt called the travel bubble announcement the “first step” in normalizing international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand it may take a few more weeks, but we are working constructively and patiently,” Hunt said.

Air New Zealand called the announcement a “great step forward.”

“Safety is obviously a big priority for our airline, and we’ve been working closely with governments, relevant agencies, and airports on what is required to keep our customers and staff safe once travel opens up,” Chief Executive Greg Foran said in a statement.

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