Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia will resume from Monday, Australia’s tourism minister has said as the country prepares for a partial reopening of its international borders for the first time since March 2020.
Vaccinated Australian nationals and permanent residents of New South Wales, Victoria and ACT will be able to fly internationally from Monday without the need for a waiver or quarantine on return.
So far, however, only tourists from neighboring New Zealand have access to Australia, provided they have been vaccinated.
“The resumption of quarantine – free travel from New Zealand to Australia is another important marker on our path to recovery,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement on Sunday.
Tehan said that in 2019, New Zealand was the second largest source of travelers to Australia with 1.4 million visitors. Travelers must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test within three days of their arrival in Australia and proof of full vaccination.
Australia closed its borders at the beginning of the pandemic, allowing only a limited number of citizens and residents to return from abroad, subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at a hotel at their own expense. Citizens should apply for permission to leave the country.
More than 80% of people aged 16 and over in New South Wales, Victoria and Canberra are fully vaccinated – a condition for resuming international travel – meaning that around 14 million Australians are free to leave and enter the country if they is fully vaccinated.
But while airlines and tourist agencies have reported “massive demand” for services, only 23% of Australians feel confident making travel plans next year, a study by consumer advocacy group Choice showed last week.
There were more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases registered across Australia on Sunday, with 1,036 in Victoria and 177 infections in New South Wales. There were 13 related deaths.
While the Delta outbreak kept Sydney and Melbourne in lockdowns for several months until recently, Australia’s Covid-19 case numbers remain far lower than many comparable countries with just over 170,500 infections and 1,735 deaths.
Nearly 77% of all Australians are now fully vaccinated and more than 88% have received their first dose.
Australia and New Zealand had introduced a quarantine-free travel bubble earlier this year, but it was suspended after Delta cases rose in NSW and Victoria.