Sydney airport
Sydney airport

Australia opens borders for international travel – but only to New Zealand

Travellers won’t have to quarantine on arrival

Helen Coffey
Thursday 15 October 2020 11:40
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Australia is finally reopening its borders to international travellers, but only those from New Zealand will be allowed in.

A new one-way transtasman travel bubble has been agreed, meaning New Zealanders can fly into New South Wales and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine on arrival.

The first flight touches down at Sydney Airport this weekend.

“We're expecting 200 passengers on the first flight from New Zealand,” said Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert, reports the NZ Herald.

“We haven't welcomed international travellers to Sydney in months that haven't had to come through customs and go straight on to buses to hotel [for quarantine].”

However, the bubble is currently one-way – on their return, New Zealanders must endure two weeks of self-isolation.

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has said it still isn’t safe to open up quarantine-free travel between the two countries.

“In our view, we are not ready to have quarantine-free travel with Australia,” she said.  

“They have a very different strategy to us, and so they're making that decision... but for now we, of course, have to keep our New Zealanders safe.

“I encourage New Zealanders to think about spending their dollars here locally.”

The transtasman bubble is the first step in a “phased approach”, according to the Australian government.

South Australia is likely to be the next region to be added to the bubble, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced in early October.

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Australia’s borders are likely to remain closed to all other international travel until the end of 2021.

The rule applies both ways, meaning Australians will be largely unable to travel overseas, while tourists will be prohibited from entering Australia.

Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer, confirmed the decision to wait until a vaccine is available after handing down the Federal Budget, reports News.com.au.

He said: “International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time, and a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget.”

The country’s domestic borders are expected to largely reopen by December this year to allow travel within Australia; however, Western Australia may not lift restrictions until April 2021.

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