Australia’s international travel ban could be lifted within weeks

New Zealand no riskier than travelling within Australia, says tourism expert.

qantas and air new zealand tailfins

Australia’s international travel ban could be lifted within weeks, should the proposed trans-Tasman bubble pass muster in early June.

The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group is working out how to open the borders between Australia and New Zealand and plans to send a draft proposal to the Australian and New Zealand governments in the next week or so.

The group, which consists of health experts and airline, airport and border agency representatives from both nations, hopes to have the bubble ready by the July school holidays.

“New Zealand and Australia have worked really hard to get where they are in containing the spread of COVID-19,” said group co-chair Scott Tasker.

“We are very fortunate to now be in a position where our governments can even contemplate the safe re-opening of the trans-Tasman border, for the benefit of our communities and economies.

“Our aim is to put forward a detailed set of recommendations that safely manage any health risks, while also allowing Kiwis and Australians to travel to each country without the need for a 14-day quarantine.”

One-and-a-half million Australians visited New Zealand last year, which made up about 40 per cent of the country’s visitors. Almost as many Kiwis, 1.4 million, travelled to Australia. According to the NZ Herald, reciprocal spending amounted to about $3 billion.

passengers at melbourne's international departures gate

Both Australia and New Zealand are supporting the plan. However, it may be hindered by Australia’s domestic border disputes.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said earlier this week that he hoped closed borders in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania would not “become an obstacle to progress” on trans-Tasman travel.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would consider the ‘bubble’ as part of the federal government’s third phase of eased restrictions.

Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group co-chair and chief executive of Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum Margy Osmond said experts were focused on creating protections required for a safe travel zone, including eligibility for travel, how to manage passengers, enhanced cleaning protocols and education campaigns.

“It’s critically important that people can have confidence in the safety of a trans-Tasman safe travel zone,” she said.

Forum co-chair Ann Sherry said the bubble had made good progress in a short space of time, but that people will have to testify as to their health and will not be allowed to travel if they are sick.

“But the pace of people being tested has already given us a good understanding of how community transmission is working,” she said.

“[The] overriding focus is to ensure each partner has jointly got the confidence in keeping travellers safe and each other’s ability to do what we say we are going to do”.

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters believes the bubble is a ways off yet.

“Truthfully, we couldn’t get it up and running tomorrow. But if we are going to have biosecurity standards and transportation protocols they need to be identical between the two countries,” he said.

The benefits of opening a corridor between both countries goes well beyond travel, says NZ Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker

“As soon as global disruption became evident, and before we had harder border restrictions, we were discussing the maintenance of supply lines with Australia, both by sea and air, and we have both also been in regular contact with our traditional trading partners, to retain supply lines for health and other essential goods,” he said.

“I think an indication of how seriously we are taking this is that both of our Prime Ministers are speaking about this weekly, so we are now trying to apply the ‘go fast go early’ principles to rekindling the economy – and that is an important part of that.”

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts wants to plan to move quickly.

“New Zealand is a clear favourite [for Australians], with a third of those wanting to travel overseas identifying it as their preferred destination,” he said.

“[New Zealand is] no riskier than travelling interstate within Australia, while there is a lot more apprehension about travelling to other destinations that have not been as successful in containing the virus.”

Would you travel to New Zealand as soon as the bubble opens?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    30th May 2020
    I have booked and paid for a trip to NZ from PERTH. This was paid for in Early December. What are my chances to be able to fly to see my daughter and only grand child in November with WA border restrictions!!!!!!
    It a whole waiting game for our once in a year trip to the family
    30th May 2020
    We had to cancel our planned trip to NZ for April. Was partly a trip over to see if we wanted to live there. We will go one day but not this soon. Not so much C19, more that we have decide it isn't for us anyway.
    30th May 2020
    Good idea to have a good look first if considering living there. Best to go in the NZ winter and if you can handle that OK. More so if you come from Bundaberg, we have lived a long time in Cairns and we feel the cold even in December when we are in Dunedin.
    30th May 2020
    Shows such as "800 Words" certainly did it for me. On the coast, a small town with friendly locals, yet far enough from the city madness. What a sell for life in NZ!
    30th May 2020
    Certainly hope to be able to go to NZ in December to spend Christmas with my daughter and grandchildren as I have done for the past nine years.
    Chris B T
    30th May 2020
    The Travel Restrictions Haven't Been Lifted to travel within Queensland,ie you can not travel from one end of the state to the other and in between.
    Tourism travel of Queensland any where within are hurting.
    Good luck with NZ travel.
    30th May 2020
    The title of this article is a bit misleading NZ is International and the discussion re NZ - Australian travel has already been canvassed at length. Any other international travel could be up to 2 years away.
    30th May 2020
    True but countries such as Fiji, Samoa and other Pacific nations with few COVID-19 cases are hoping to be included in the deal. Other countries such as Vietnam with only 300 infections and no deaths are also looking to open up quicker. We just have to wait and see. It's all very well Australua/New Zealand but what if Chinese students in their thousands are allowed back? Would people be as confident?
    30th May 2020
    Greece has just announced that they are going to allow international travel into Greece, but only from certain countries, Australia and New Zealand are two of the countries allowed, but International flights out of Australia are still banned, it’s possible that might change by the end of the year, I think I will be reluctant to book anything until there is some certainty, I doubt that you will get any insurance cover at this time.
    30th May 2020
    I believe there are also some other countries with good results in containing the spread of COVID-19. I can envisage where those countries could be included in a bubble similar to Australia and NZ. This is possible with the distances that modern aircraft can go in a single hop. Countries like USA, UK would currently be excluded from this sort of "bubble" until they show a large improvement.
    31st May 2020
    Remember when Scomo and his mob were saying we will most likely not see international travel until next year?
    31st May 2020
    Good idea Bundabergian, by all means go and have a look. Make sure you check out the prices of housing as a start.
    Auckland is very expensive in terms of housing. Check out the day to day food prices. I don't know what you pay in Bundaberg.
    In NZ carrots 2.69/kg,petrol in Auckland around 2.40/litre. Milk 2.50/l,potatoes around 3.00/kg. Most bread items about 2/3 dearer than Perth WA.
    Now if you have to do repairs or bits and pieces on a house you buy, be aware of the limited supply and the numbers of the same item. Eg Galvanized post Stirrup Perth Price approx $15 NZ at Bunnings or Mitre 10 $32, 25mm white retic pipe 6m length Aust approx $10 NZ $54. Bunnings don't sell PVC pipe The same with Galv brackets over 2x the Aust price. Black poly pipe is o'K in price very few fitting and lack of variety.
    These are just a few things meat is approx 1/3 dearer than Aust, however the "fush and Chups" are about 1/2 the price that Australia. Bakeries for pies etc are about 2/3 Aust price.
    Electricity I am not certain off. My daughter and Grand daughter live in Cambridge, a very nice country town near Hamilton south of Auckland. House prices in that town are high in line with prices in Auckland. Places to visit are closer than those in WA. All these prices are as of Dec 2019. Do your homework
    Ted Wards
    1st Jun 2020
    I still have my NYE cruise to NZ booked. Its not leaving until 28th December from Melbourne.....fingers crossed!
    3rd Jun 2020
    Your game Ted, just make sure you take some liquid zinc sulphate or in spray form, if you get a sore throat it can help clear things up before it progresses into anything serious.

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