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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard



Question No. 1—COVID-19 Response

1. Dr TRACEY McLELLAN (Labour—Banks Peninsula) to the Minister for COVID-19 Response: What recent announcements has the Government made on commencing quarantine-free travel to and from New Zealand?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister for COVID-19 Response): More good news. Yesterday, the Prime Minister and I announced that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will commence at 11.59 p.m. on Sunday, 18 April. The opening of a trans-Tasman bubble is an important step forward in our COVID-19 response and represents a world-leading arrangement: safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out. It also represents the start of a new chapter in New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and recovery, one that all New Zealanders have worked so hard for.

Dr Tracey McLellan: How will New Zealanders benefit from the opening of a trans-Tasman bubble?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: There is no doubt that the commencement of quarantine-free travel with Australia will give our economic recovery a welcome boost, particularly for airlines and for businesses affected by border closures. I will defer to the Minister of Tourism to elaborate more on that in due course, but one sacrifice that’s been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family in Australia. Our team’s success in managing COVID-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity for families and friends to reconnect with loved ones more easily.

Dr Tracey McLellan: What will the difference between quarantine-free travel and travel pre-COVID-19 be?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: It is important to remember that life will not go back to exactly the way it was before COVID-19. Those undertaking travel across the Tasman will need to do so on the basis of flyer beware. People need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there’s an outbreak on either side of the Tasman. Just as we have our alert level system for managing cases in New Zealand, we also now have a framework for managing New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia, which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause, and suspend. While we do want to encourage people to travel both ways across the Tasman—we want visitors to come to New Zealand—it is critical that those undertaking travel understand the risks involved.

Dr Tracey McLellan: So what precautions have been taken to manage the risk at the border in light of the opening of that trans-Tasman bubble?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: We have been working very hard to ensure that good, strong, robust public health measures are in place. To be eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on quarantine flights, people must not have had a positive COVID-19 test result in the previous 14-day period. They must not be awaiting results from a COVID-19 test taken during that period. Passengers need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while they are in New Zealand. They need to complete pre-departure health declarations, and they won’t be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms. When they fly, they’ll be required to wear a mask on their flight. They’ll also be asked to download and use New Zealand’s COVID Tracer app whilst they’re in New Zealand. On arrival, they’ll be taken through a green zone at the airport, meaning they won’t have any contact with those who are arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine. We’ll also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving, as an added precaution.