New Zealand's Cabinet has agreed in principle to establish a Trans-Tasman travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of 2021, according to NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured).
The bubble will only be established pending no further outbreaks of community transmission of COVID-19 in either Australia or New Zealand.
Once in place it would allow Australians and New Zealanders to travel between the two countries without needing to go into two weeks of quarantine on arrival.
"Pending confirmation from the Australian cabinet and no significant change in the circumstances of either country, officials have been working on a range of matters and good progress has been made," PM Ardern said.
"There has been some public focus on the requirement for 28 days free of community transmission, but that is just one of the criteria.
"As important is having clear plans in the event of community outbreak in either country that may see borders closed and potentially thousands of New Zealanders seeking to return who may need to go into isolation."
Ardern also said arrangements need to be made with airlines about the management of crew and the separation of Trans-Tasman flights from other services.
This will be done to ensure there is no potential cross-contamination between those transitioning from high-risk areas.
"It is our intention to name a date for the commencement of Trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel in the New Year once remaining details are locked down," Ardern said.
"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're going into Summer."
Updated at 1.10pm AEDT on 14 December 2020.
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