CANBERRA, Australia — Australia and New Zealand have announced a partial opening of their borders to international travel between the neighboring countries.
Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack says passengers will be able to fly to Sydney and Darwin without going into quarantine from Oct. 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered COVID-19 hot spots.
But New Zealand will continue insist on travelers from Australia going into hotel quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
McCormack says, “We want to open up Australia to the world. This is the first part of it.”
The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said that the return of international travel would begin with a so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble. McCormack says Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia.
But travelers who have visited a New Zealand hot spot — defined as a region that has reported three new infections a day over three days — won’t be exempt from quarantine.
McCormack says the South Australia state capital Adelaide would likely become the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.
He says when New Zealand would allow quarantine-free travel from Australia is a question for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Australian states and territories have restricted movement across their borders to reduce the pandemic’s spread, particularly from Victoria state, which has accounted for 802 of the nation’s 888 coronavirus deaths.