Both Australia and New Zealand have been relatively successful in containing the spread of COVID-19. With immediate health concerns having been reduced, an opportunity for economic recovery has emerged. With this in mind, both governments have outlined plans to open up a ‘COVID-safe travel zone’ between the two countries. That means Aussies and Kiwis might soon be able to fly across the ditch in what is being referred to as the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble.
Wondering if you’ll be able to travel? What’ll happen if there are more outbreaks? Let’s take a closer look at how this agreement might work out.
What is the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble?
The ‘Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble’ would allow both Australians and New Zealanders to travel freely between the two countries. With travel restrictions still in place, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, have been in talks about the deal for some time. The topic first surfaced as both Australia and New Zealand saw the number of new cases begin to trend downwards.
The primary purpose of the ‘travel bubble,’ would be to boost the recovery of respective economies. Of course, there are setbacks and obstacles that both countries will need to address and overcome in order for the ‘travel bubble’ agreement to be safely implemented.
The Trans-Tasman Agreement
Since 1997, Australia has maintained a close diplomatic relationship with New Zealand thanks to the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement. The Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement allows for free movement of citizens between Australia and New Zealand. To put simply, this means Australian citizens can move to New Zealand to live and work if they wish, and vice versa.
Despite this agreement, there are current restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Both countries currently require people entering their borders to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine and are only just starting to ease those restrictions now. However, the travel bubble would mean people from Australia and New Zealand could travel quarantine-free between both countries.
What if there’s another outbreak?
Both Australia and New Zealand have been applauded for their efforts in containing the COVID-19 outbreak. New Zealand opted for a sharp lockdown method, whereas Australia adopted a more gradual approach to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases. Following the success of both approaches, Australia and New Zealand have both seen restrictions begin to ease. With a Trans-Tasman Travel bubble likely to come to fruition, one issue appears to be most problematic: what if there is another outbreak?
Both countries have made leaps and bounds to flatten the curve and would hate to lose those hard-earned gains from re-opening their borders prematurely. Isolated cases or small spikes in new ones are inevitable and are unlikely to worry politicians on either side of the ditch. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters stated that neither country should get cold feet from further isolated outbreaks. However, it’s likely that if a second outbreak were to occur in Australia or New Zealand, the travel bubble would close immediately.
Australia or New Zealand: Who benefits the most from the travel bubble?
Although both respective economies could benefit from the travel bubble, Deloitte’s research found there’s a clear winner. According to their findings, Australians travelling to New Zealand account for 40% of all international visitors, making them the largest source of international visits to the country. New Zealanders travelling to Australia, on the other hand, only represent 15% of all international visits. China has recently overtaken New Zealand as Australia’s largest source of international visitors.
On top of that, the central and western Australian states won’t get much love from Kiwi visitors. Approximately, 90% of New Zealanders prefer the east coast of Australia when making the trip across the ditch.
Travelling to NZ: What to keep in mind
Talk of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble is likely to get plenty of Aussies and Kiwis excited. Having been deprived of overseas adventure for some time, undoubtedly many are beginning to experience itchy feet. Of course, before you go booking your ticket, here are some things you might want to keep in mind.
Will I need a passport to travel to NZ?
Yes. Anyone visiting New Zealand will require a passport. Australian and New Zealand Passport holders and Australian permanent residents/New Zealand residents need to have a passport that’s valid for enough time to allow you to travel to New Zealand.
For anyone else visiting New Zealand temporarily (visitors, students and workers), your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand.
Do I need a visa to visit NZ from Australia?
No. Australian nationals do not need a visa to visit New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand’s Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement removes any need for one. In fact, Australians are able to have resident status upon arrival. This means you can visit, live, and work as freely as you’d like, without obtaining a visa.
Will I have to self-quarantine when travelling to NZ from Australia?
No. Currently, both Australia and New Zealand require people entering the country to do a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. However, the highly talked up travel bubble would see quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand.
What happens next?
It’s not yet known when the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble agreement will come to fruition. There’s been talk of a July time-frame, yet recent discussion has indicated a September start is more likely.
Although this is an exciting time for both countries, probably best not to make your holiday plans prematurely. With the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, plans to open up Trans-Tasman travel can come to a grinding halt just as quickly as they started.
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