In announcing the start of the two-way trans-Tasman travel bubble from Monday 19 April yesterday, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda said her government has worked hard to ensure it is safe and that the necessary public health measures are in place.
“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’,” she said. “People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak. “Just as we have our alert level settings for managing cases in New Zealand, we will also now have a framework for managing New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia, which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause, suspend.”
New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, said the government has added further layers to manage risk at the border. “To be eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, people must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test taken during that period,” he said.
“WHEN THOSE IN AUSTRALIA DECIDE TO COME TO NEW ZEALAND, THEY WILL BE MAKING A BOOKING ON A ‘GREEN ZONE’ FLIGHT. THAT MEANS THAT THERE WILL BE NO PASSENGERS ON THAT FLIGHT WHO HAVE COME FROM ANYWHERE BUT AUSTRALIA IN THE LAST 14 DAYS.
“They will also be flown by crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time. Hipkins said passengers will also 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. “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,” he said.
“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.”
Unfortunately, residents of Western Australia are at this stage, not included in the trans-Tasman bubble, though talks are now in place to work towards a reciprocal start date for WA. New Zealanders arriving in Western Australia are still considered ‘international travellers’ and will need to undergo 14 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense.
The only other caveat is for Queenslanders where a decision will be made on Wednesday, April 14 on whether people flying from the sunshine state to New Zealand would need to get a test before they board their flights or face any extra restrictions.