‘The fish are biting and the beers are cold!’: Australia welcomes New Zealanders back to the country, with Kiwis allowed to enter without covid quarantine
- It will be the first time Australia welcomes non-citizens to country since March
- The news comes amid a slowdown of infections and a struggling economy
- Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced the news on Friday
- He said New Zealanders could travel to certain regions from October 16
- However New Zealand is not ready to allow Australian entries without quarantine
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem also said anyone returning would have to isolate
Australia will welcome New Zealanders back into the country for the first time since March, allowing Kiwis to enter without being required to quarantine on arrival.
The announcement came from Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Friday, as Australian Covid-19 infections slow and Canberra seeks to revive its ailing economy.
‘I have just gotten off the phone with (Northern Territory) Chief Minister (Michael) Gunner who says the fish are biting and the beers are cold, and he wants to see as many of his New Zealand cousins and friends as possible,’ McCormack told reporters in Canberra.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Friday that Australia would welcome arrivals from New Zealand after closing its borders to all non-citizens in March, in a bid to give the country’s ailing economy a boost
New Zealand citizens and residents will be allowed to travel to Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales and its remote Northern Territory (NT) from October 16.
When they arrive, they will not have to undergo the two-week quarantine required of Australians arriving from other nations, McCormack said.
Instead, anyone arriving will have to declare they have not been in a hotspot – defined as place with three Covid-19 daily cases over three days – in the two weeks before their flight.
Australia closed its borders in March to all non-citizens to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed 890 lives in the country and brought much of the economy to a standstill.
Only 14 cases have been reported in NSW in the past two weeks – all of them people in hotel quarantine – while the Northern Territory has had no new cases since early August.
New Zealand meanwhile has effectively eradicated Covid-19, reducing the threat of additional infections in Australia from New Zealand visitors.
Mr McCormack said he wanted two-way travel but said no date has been set for when Australians can go to New Zealand.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said those who travelled to Australia would have to quarantine on their return. She also said New Zealand would not open its borders to Australians for now.
Travellers from New Zealande will be able to fly in to Sydney and Darwin without quarantine from 16 October under the first stage of the travel bubble. Pictured: Sydney, file photo
Ardern said on Thursday: ‘In our view, we are not ready to have quarantine-free travel with Australia.
‘I encourage New Zealanders to think about spending their dollars here locally,’ she said.
‘Even if Australia opens up borders for New Zealanders to go in without quarantine, that doesn’t mean that they won’t have to go into quarantine on return. At this stage they will.’
Ms Ardern and Mr Morrison have been discussing the return of regular travel across the Tasman for months, though New Zealand’s Covid-19 elimination strategy means Ms Ardern is less inclined to open up.
‘They have a very different strategy to us, and so they’re making that decision and that is their prerogative but for now we of course have to keep New Zealanders safe,’ she said.
New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern (pictured) said on Thursday: ‘In our view, we are not ready to have quarantine-free travel with Australia’. Anyone who does go to Australia from New Zealand will be required to quarantine on their return home under New Zealand’s measures
The travel route will provide a badly needed boost to Australia’s economy, which shrank seven per cent in the three months ended June, the most since records began in 1959.
New Zealand tourists spent £1.44 billion in Australia during 2019, according to government estimates.
The NSW capital Sydney is Australia’s biggest tourist destination, while the Northern Territory boasts Outback attractions like Uluru.
The agreement will also free up 325 Sydney hotel quarantine places for Australians to return from overseas.
McCormack said Canberra was also considering allowing residents of other countries that have no COVID-19 outbreaks to also enter Australia, although he declined to say which countries were under consideration.
The agreement between the federal government and the NSW and NT governments means Pacific islanders will be able to fly into Australia for work after spending 14 days in New Zealand.
‘They can avail themselves of this opportunity, they can come and pick fruit, shear our sheep, fall in love,’ Mr McCormack said.
The deputy prime minister said this was the first step in Australia’s plan to re-open to the world after the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘We may well extend this. We want to open up Australia to the world. This is the first part of it,’ he said.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged that flights could next be allowed from Japan, South Korea and Pacific islands such as Fiji.
Mr Morrison said opening up some international travel will be great for tourism businesses.
Australia’s second-most populous state Victoria accounts for 90% of national COVID-19 deaths and remains in partial lockdown.
Victorian officials said seven people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, down from 15 on Thursday and near the four-month low of five cases reported on September 28.