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Covid-19: New Zealand working on 2-way travel bubble

IANS/Wellington
Filed on March 18, 2021
AFP

Initiative will allow Australians and some Pacific Islands to travel freely to the country.

New Zealand is working to establish two-way 'travel bubbles' with Australia and some Pacific Islands that could be in place within the next month, a Minister said on Thursday.

New Zealand's border has been closed to all but residents and citizens, with a few exemptions, since March 2020, reports dpa news agency.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand on Thursday he was "very optimistic" the government would work out conditions for a travel bubble soon.

"There's a few issues still to talk through, including what we do in the event there is an outbreak, how we manage people who aren't in their home country at that time," he told RNZ.

Christchurch Airport, in the country's South Island, had been ready for a 'bubble' since October, chief aeronautical and commercial officer Justin Watson said in a statement on Thursday.

Frontline staff had been vaccinated, and the airport had be split in two to allow for separate processing of "red and green" flights, he said.

"Like us, the South Island tourism industry is eager to welcome Australians back."

Two-way quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands and Niue, both realm countries of New Zealand, is also on the cards.

Cook Islands residents can already travel to New Zealand without the need to quarantine, while Niueans will be able to do the same from March 24.

The "trans-Tasman travel bubble" idea has been around since mid-April 2020, and would allow Australians and New Zealanders to travel between both countries freely.





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