Airports get busy as Australia-New Zealand quarantine-free travel begins


SYDNEY: Hundreds of passengers thronged Australian airports on Monday (Apr 19) as an open border system began with New Zealand, a pandemic milestone that allows Australian residents to fly there for the first time in over a year without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents since late last year, New Zealand had enforced isolation for arrivals from its neighbour, citing concern about sporadic virus outbreaks there.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers crowding the international departure terminals at Australian airports.

READ: Australia in no hurry to reopen borders: PM Scott Morrison

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

Passengers at Sydney Airport on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

A woman arriving from New Zealand is hugged by her stepmother at Sydney Airport. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

“It is the first time in 400 days that people can travel quarantine-free and we are adding 16 return flights a day to New Zealand, and they are full,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corp on Monday.

The open border will help drive the economic recovery for both countries and reunite thousands with families and friends, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a joint statement.

READ: Australia reports first death from blood clots ‘likely’ linked to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

A passenger at Sydney Airport on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

A passenger from New Zealand poses with drag queens as they welcome her at Sydney Airport on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia. Be it returning family, friends or holiday-makers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself,” Ardern said.

Both Australia and New Zealand had largely closed their borders to non-citizens and permanent residents more than a year ago, helping to keep their COVID-19 numbers relatively low compared with several other developed countries.

READ: New Zealand trials ‘early warning’ COVID-19 app at border

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

Passengers at Sydney Airport on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

Australia New Zealand Travel Bubbles

A passenger at Sydney Airport prepares to catch a flight to New Zealand on Apr 19, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rick Rycroft)

Morrison and Ardern warned travellers to prepare for disruptions to travel arrangements at short notice in the event of COVID-19 outbreaks, and said the risks of quarantine-free travel will be under “constant review”.

Both leaders also flagged the possibility of extending quarantine-free travel to other countries in the Pacific region when “it is safe to do so”.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram



Source link