Australia-New Zealand Travel Bubble Resumes in Run-Up to Reopening

Australia and New Zealand today resume their so-called “travel bubble” arrangement for quarantine-free travel between the two Oceanian countries, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan told local Channel 7 News on Sunday.

The policy change takes effect on the same day that the Australian government also begins allowing fully vaccinated Aussies from New South Wales, Victoria and the Capital Territory to travel abroad again, completing an abbreviated quarantine at home upon their return.

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Today’s move marks the initiation of the first phase of the country’s plan for reopening to international travel after 19 months of keeping its borders tightly sealed. For now, only fully vaccinated Kiwis who also have a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their arrival in Australia are being welcomed.

Over 80 percent of Australians aged 16 and over who live in New South Wales, Victoria and the Capital Territory are now fully vaccinated, which was a condition of allowing international travel to resume. In all of Australia, almost 77 percent of people are fully vaccinated, and over 88 percent have received at least one dose, according to The Guardian.

Tehan also indicated that citizens of Singapore will also be welcomed Down Under before long. “Our Kiwi friends can come into Victoria, NSW without quarantining and won’t be long before we welcome Singaporeans as well,” he told Channel 7. “This is us as a nation beginning to open up again.”

“The resumption of quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia is another important marker on our road to recovery,” Tehan asserted. He called it “wonderful news” for the 660,000 people employed by Australia’s tourism industry.

The travel bubble between the neighboring Oceanian nations was suspended back in July, as outbreaks of the COVID-19 Delta variant took hold in the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria, prompting prolonged lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne that were only recently lifted.

Today’s announcement arrives as Australia logs relatively low new case counts after enduring the spikes seen in recent months. Australia’s overall case numbers recorded over the course of the pandemic continue to be far lower than those of comparable countries, with just over 172,000 infections and 1,735 related deaths.

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