New Zealand and Australia to Start Travel Bubble April 19

New Zealand will allow quarantine-free visits by Australians from April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday, creating a "travel bubble" for the neighbouring nations which have closed borders to the rest of the world to eradicate COVID-19, Nikkei Asia reported. Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealanders for months, New Zealand has continued mandatory quarantine from its neighbour, citing concern about small COVID-19 outbreaks there. The virus has effectively been eradicated in both countries, with minor outbreaks a result of leakage from quarantined returned travellers. Australia has recorded about 29,400 virus cases and 909 deaths since the pandemic began, while New Zealand has had just over 2,100 confirmed cases and 26 deaths. Other neighbouring countries have proposed special travel zones, but the New Zealand-Australia arrangement is among the first that does not involve mandatory COVID-19 testing. About 568,000 New Zealand-born people live in Australia, according to 2018 figures, equivalent to 2.3 per cent of Australia's population and Australia's fourth-largest migrant community. Australia supplied 1.5 million or 40% of arrivals in New Zealand in 2019, the year before the pandemic shut borders, contributing NZ$2.7 billion ($1.9 billion) to its economy, according to New Zealand figures. Arrivals were forecast to reach 80% of that level by early 2022, Ardern said. Read more.