New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on December 14 that a travel bubble can be expected in the first quarter of next year, meaning that people can travel between the two countries without having to complete a 14-day mandatory quarantine at either end.
Ardern’s announcement means that the bubble — which has been discussed for months and has been widely anticipated by people in both countries — will finally allow for quarantine-free travel both ways.
But those strict measures have also meant Australia and New Zealand have been relatively successful at containing their coronavirus outbreaks. Australia has reported 28,000 coronavirus cases, including 908 deaths, while New Zealand has reported 1,740 cases and 25 deaths.
Ardern said that the bubble depended on confirmation from the Australian cabinet, and “no significant change in the circumstances of either country.” She said the government planned to name a date for the travel bubble next year.
“I think for now, New Zealanders by and large appreciate the approach of the Government to ensure that we are not taking on unnecessary risk as we going into summer and a much needed summer break for New Zealanders.”
The move is significant both for tourism — and for those living away from home.
Although the two countries are separated by about 2,000 km (1,243 miles) of sea, they have one of the closest bilateral relationships in the world.
Ardern’s announcement comes two days after the country announced plans to roll out quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands in the first quarter of next year.