Australia and New Zealand’s quarantine and Covid testing free “travel bubble” is underway as hundreds of passengers travel for the first time since the borders closed.
After effectively getting rid of coronavirus by closing their borders last year to stop rising cases, residents of the two countries can now travel freely.
Most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from residents of New Zealand for months, New Zealand has continued to enforce isolation for Australians arriving in their country.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a few weeks ago that their neighbours in Australia would now have full access to the country - allowing cross-border travel without needing a Covid-19 test.
She said: "The Trans-Tasman travel bubble represents a start of a new chapter in our COVID response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard at."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the agreement was "the first of many more steps to come as we get back to a more normal position, not only over the course of this year but beyond."
Coronavirus has effectively been eradicated in both New Zealand and Australia with small outbreaks being the result of quarantine returned travellers.
Australia has recorded around 29,400 cases and over 900 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic with New Zealand recording over 2,100 cases and 26 deaths.
Ardern warned that flights could still be suspended to Australia if there were local outbreaks in the area. She also said that travellers must wear face masks on flights and undertake contact tracing.
The bubble operates under a “flyer beware” system with no new support from the government if people were stuck in Australia by cancellations at short notice, Ardern added.
Air New Zealad and Qantas Airways have said that they would increase the number of flights between the two countries to more than 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
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