New Zealanders will be able to travel quarantine-free to New South Wales and the Northern Territory from October 16, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack has announced.
New Zealand residents cannot have been in a COVID-19 hot spot for at least 14 days in order to avoid quarantining when arriving in Australia.
The announcement has come after NZ reported no new cases of COVID-19 and 43 active cases on Friday.
The deal was “the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries”, McCormack said, noting that any states and territories wanting to participate in the bubble in the future would need to agree with and abide by the federal government’s definition of a hot spot.
“The commonwealth hot spot definition has been developed by the acting chief medical officer professor Paul Kelly and is robust and proportionate and of course everything that we have done right the way through we have done on the best medical advice,” he said.
The government has defined hotspots using a three-day rolling average of three locally acquired cases per day.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that there are currently no COVID-19 hotspots in NZ.
“The last locally acquired case with an unidentified epidemiological source occurred on 21 August 2020. We are working closely with New Zealand authorities to ensure we are notified promptly of any outbreaks there,” he said in a joint statement.
South Australia would likely be the next state to be added to the travel zone.
Morrison said he expected the deal with NZ would allow for an additional 325 passengers a week to enter quarantine in Sydney.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern first met with the national cabinet in May to discuss a potential trans-Tasman travel bubble, but a rise in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne and Auckland prevented a deal from being made.