Coronavirus: Australia, New Zealand to partially reopen borders to allow for travel

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Australia and New Zealand on Friday announced a partial opening of their borders to travel between the neighboring countries.

Passengers will be able to fly to the Australian cities of Sydney and Darwin without going into quarantine from October 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered to be a COVID-19 hot spot, Transport Minister Michael McCormack said.

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But New Zealand will continue to insist on travelers from Australia going into hotel quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

“We want to open up Australia to the world,” McCormack said. “This is the first part of it.”

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The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said the return of international travel would begin with a so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble.

Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia, McCormack said.

But travelers who have visited a New Zealand “hot spot” — defined as a region that has reported three new infections a day over three days — would not be exempt from quarantine.

The South Australia state capital Adelaide would likely become the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand, McCormack said.

When New Zealand would allow quarantine-free travel from Australia was a question for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, he said.

Australian states and territories have restricted movement across their borders to reduce the pandemic’s spread, particularly from Victoria state which has accounted for 802 of the nation’s 888 coronavirus deaths.

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