Tran-Tasman bubble open to select states, with pre-departure testing

The trans-Tasman bubble, paused Australia-wide on 26 June, is back in action for travellers from Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

New Zealand lifted the ban for travellers from these states on 4 July, after recent COVID-19 outbreaks were contained. But there is a catch: all travel is now subject to a mandatory pre-departure COVID test.

Travel from Western Australia and the Northern Territory resumed at 11:59pm (NZT) on 9 July, however, the block on travel from New South Wales and Queensland, where the virus is still spreading in the community, will remain in place for now.

Travellers to NZ must not have visited a COVID exposure site or ‘hotspot’ in the 14 days before their flight.

Read more: Will Australia or New Zealand benefit from the travel bubble most?

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health says that all travellers eligible to fly to New Zealand must take a pre-departure PCR or RT-PCR test within 72 hours of their departure and return a negative result before they’ll be allowed to board their flight.

No exemption is made for people who have received their COVID vaccination.

“The government has been monitoring overseas developments and is concerned about high rates of infection and new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly,” explains the NZ government’s Unite Against COVID-19 website.

“Pre-departure tests reduce the risk of infected travellers on international flights infecting other travellers.

“You need to have both your COVID-19 sample taken and your result returned no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your first international departure.”

Free community testing stations don’t qualify for the necessary tests. “Pre-departure testing and result certificates for travel clearance are provided by private pathology clinics.”

Read more: Singapore high on the list for next potential travel bubble

These tests typically cost between $110 and $170 per person and do not qualify for a Medicare rebate. If you need a quick turnaround, a same day result will increase the cost.

Going forward, everyone who has been in Australia for more than 72 hours will need a negative pre-departure test result to enter New Zealand.

For further information, including recognised test centres in Australia, travellers should consult the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Do you agree with a mandatory COVID test before flying? Do you think they should accept negative results from free community testing stations? Share why or why not in the comments section below.

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Written by Ellie Baxter