Australia has taken another step to pave the way for Trans-Tasman travel, the Australian government lifting its travel ban for Australians to New Zealand last night. BUT New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was not yet ready to proceed.
New Zealanders were hoping to get some different news post-Cabinet meeting this afternoon, but Ardern disappointed.
Admitting that quarantine-free travel with Australia was a priority for New Zealand, Ardern said her government must proceed with caution.
“We know what it would mean for people but we also know that many New Zealanders are nervous,” she said.
Ardern wants to ensure that certain conditions are met (such as response frameworks and contact tracing, industry preparedness etc) before announcing the the commencement date for Trans-Tasman travel on 6 April.
Whether all Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand is unclear.
Ardern admitted the two countries had met 12 times to discuss the travel bubble, but said that initial country-to-country negotiations were taking too long, so they’ve decided to go to state-by-state.
“We’ve said: ‘Look, let’s just move state-by-state’ because it’s actually just taking a bit too much work, a bit too difficult,” Ardern told state broadcaster TVNZ today.
“Let’s just operate as Australia has been operating with us. That’s helping to speed things up.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt amended the emergency biosecurity laws to allow anyone who had been in Australia for at least 14 days to travel “directly to New Zealand” for any reason, the ABC reported. Previously, Australians have to apply for an exemption to leave the country.
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