The Trans-Tasman travel bubble has opened on Sunday night, with the first flight from Sydney to Auckland taking off around 7 a.m. on Monday.
After over one year’s tight border restrictions, all residents in Australia and New Zealand, including foreign nationals, can now travel to the other country without quarantine, as long as they meet related health and border clearance requirements.
“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for ANZAC Day,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Monday.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID, and two-way flights are an important step in our road out.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared her joy over the re-opening of borders.
“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holidaymakers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself,” she said in a joint statement.
“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries reconnection with the world, and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of.”
To use the travel bubble, all passengers must have spent the previous two weeks in either of the two countries and not have returned a positive Covid-19 test result during the period or shown any Covid-19 symptoms.
However, travellers need to prepare for disruptions of plans at short notice in case of an outbreak. Information related can be found on Australia’s Smartraveller website and New Zealand’s Unite Against COVID-19 website.
Singapore and other Pacific island nations are likely to be the next choices for Australian travel bubbles, with Singapore at the top of the list, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Transport minister Michael McCormack.
“We’re in those discussions,” McCormack told the ABC on Monday. “Whether it’s the Pacific Islands, Fiji, Noumea. Whether it’s the places in Asia that have a low prevalence of COVID like Taiwan, Japan, potentially Singapore and Korea.”
However, he emphasized that the vaccine rollouts in Australia and other countries are critical for opening international borders, that any travel bubble plan will be dependent on medical advice.