Australia, New Zealand continue plans for shared travel ‘bubble’ that’s safe from coronavirus

May 5, 2020, 7:21 AM UTC

Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a shared travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison said.

The two leaders agreed to commence work on a trans-Tasman Covid-safe zone that will ease travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand, they said in a joint statement Tuesday. Earlier Ardern attended Australia’s National Cabinet meeting via video link to discuss the zone and other aspects of the fight against Covid-19.

New Zealand and Australia have both had success in containing Covid-19 and avoided the exponential growth in cases seen in many other countries. As they look to relax lockdown restrictions, the focus has shifted to reigniting their economies and both would benefit if they could open the borders to each other’s tourists and business travelers.

“Building on our success so far in responding to Covid-19, continuing to protect Australians and New Zealanders remains an absolute priority,” the prime ministers said. “We will remain responsive to the health situation as it develops.”

The travel zone would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health, they said. Officials will work with business leaders from both nations as the plan develops.

“A trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends,” the two leaders said. “We need to be cautious as we progress this initiative. Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe.”

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