Australia and New Zealand will officially create a Trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, following a historic meeting between Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern, Scott Morrison and the Australian National Cabinet.
The politicians have agreed to commence work on a bubble to ease travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand and speed up economic recovery across both countries.
Such an arrangement would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health.
Any arrangement would need to take into account state and territory movement restrictions but it is a positive sign for the accommodation sector, with tourism organisations breathing a small sigh of relief.
“Building on our success so far in responding to COVID-19, continuing to protect Australians and New Zealanders remains an absolute priority,” the Prime Ministers said in a joint statement. “We will remain responsive to the health situation as it develops.”
The PMs responded to early interest from business leaders and other stakeholders in a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone by saying they would work closely with these groups, including the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, as planning developed further.
A trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends.
“We need to be cautious as we progress this initiative. Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe. Relaxing travel restrictions at an appropriate time will clearly benefit both countries and demonstrates why getting on top of the virus early is the best strategy for economic recovery,” the Prime Ministers said.
The Prime Ministers noted they had worked closely together on Australia’s and New Zealand’s respective border settings since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Each country had allowed the other’s citizens to transit on their way home, and to enter the other country if they ordinarily lived there.
These measures reflected Australia and New Zealand’s special relationship, our Single Economic Market agenda, and the long history of freedom of movement between the two countries.
“Once we have established effective travel arrangements across the Tasman, we will also explore opportunities to expand the concept to members of our broader Pacific family, enabling travel between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island countries. We will work with interested Pacific countries on parameters and arrangements to manage the risks.”