New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that the NZ cabinet has agreed in principle to the creation of a travel bubble with Australia early next year.
In a post-Cabinet media briefing, Ms Ardern said the arrangement would kick off in the first quarter of 2021 "pending confirmation from the Australian Cabinet and no significant change in the circumstances in either country".
According to RNZ, Ardern said an exact date for the commencement of the trans-Tasman quarantine-free bubble would be announced in the new year.
In the meantime, contingency plans would need to be worked out, including clear paths forwards in the event of a community outbreak.
Airport operations including a separation of staff would also need to be ironed out.
In Australia, Health Minister Greg Hunt has welcomed the announcement, calling it the "second half of the equation", the ABC reported.
"We consciously opened up Australia to people coming from NZ because their case numbers were negligible and we knew there would come a time when our case numbers would give them confidence," he said, adding that the government would “absolutely” approve the deal.
"Now this gives the chance for New Zealanders [and] Australians to visit New Zealand … without having to quarantine.
Australian Chamber Tourism Chair John Hart said the Trans-Tasman route was important for business travel, trade and tourism and would stimulate economic activity.
“While we had hoped for a bubble to commence before Christmas, this is the next best thing,” Mr Hart said.
“This bubble is just the first step in the recovery of the tourism industry and the Tourism Restart Taskforce set up by ACCI this year continues to work with the Australian Government on better outcomes for the tourism, travel and business events industry."
Over the weekend, New Zealand confirmed it would be commencing its first travel bubble with the Cook Islands.
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