A two-way quarantine free ‘travel bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand has been established.
The “world-leading” arrangement opens up travel across the Tasman Sea for residents of both countries.
Thousands of passengers were booked to fly between the two nations today (Monday).
Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand will all fly routes between the two countries.
The initiative “reflects the sustained efforts to date of both countries in managing the virus”.
The Australian government said: “Fulfilment of our commitment will allow many friends and family across the Tasman to re-unite for the first time in over a year.”
The prime ministers of both countries said they were proud of the “outstanding success” achieved by the people of Australia and New Zealand in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They expressed confidence that both countries have “robust processes” in place to ensure travel can be undertaken safely without the need to quarantine.
The resumption of two-way travel follows Australia’s decision in October to allow quarantine free-travel from New Zealand.
Australia and New Zealand are also “exploring opportunities” to extend quarantine-free travel to other countries in the Pacific, when it is safe to do so.
However, the trans-Tasman bubble will be under “constant review” in the evolving pandemic
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said: “Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for ANZAC Day.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from Covid and two-way flights are an important step in our road out.”
His New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern said: “It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holiday makers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself.
“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of.”
Meanwhile, Samoa will be looking to its diaspora in New Zealand to help boost its economy when travel resumes safely, hopefully by the end of the year.
Samoa Tourism Authority chief executive Fa’amatuainu Lenata’i Suifua said: “The establishment of the trans-Tasman bubble inspires confidence among Pacific tourism operators that a Pacific travel bubble is also inevitable.”
The bubble will provide crucial mutual benefits for all Pacific nations, as well as Australia and New Zealand, in rebounding from the economic challenges presented by the global Covid-19 pandemic, according to the STA.
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