Rebecca Gredley and Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)
Families are reuniting across the Tasman as Australia and New Zealand look for new travel bubble options to further extend the pathway out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Travellers from Australia no longer have to isolate after crossing the Tasman for the first time in more than a year, with the first flight departing Sydney on Monday morning.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is excited the travel bubble occurred before Anzac Day.
“The Tasman is open,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“It’s a win-win for Australia and New Zealand and I think this is going to be very important for the tourism and travel industry … as well the very practical issues of families being able to reconnect.
“There are so many connections between ourselves and our Kiwi cousins.”
Kiwi arrivals to Australia have been able to travel without quarantine for about six months.
All people residing in Australia or New Zealand, including foreign nationals, can use quarantine-free travel, as long as they meet the health, immigration and border clearance requirements in each country.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she imagined the airport to look like a scene from the movie Love Actually.
“It is truly exciting to start quarantine-free travel with Australia,” she told reporters.
“Be it returning family, friends or holiday makers, New Zealand says: ‘Welcome and enjoy yourself’.”
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Singapore and Pacific island nations were likely to be the next countries to sign up to similar arrangements.
“We want to make sure that we get international travel back to some sort of normality,” he told the ABC.
Mr McCormack, who is the federal transport minister, said vaccine rollouts in Australia and other countries would be critical to allowing overseas travel.
“It’s so important that we get Australians to able to travel and people to be able to come here and spend their dollars and have a good time,” he said.
He stressed medical advice would be paramount in creating any new travel bubbles with discussions in preliminary stages.