Wellington, Sep 28 | New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that an air bubble between her country and some Australian states was possible by the end of this year.
Addressing the media, Ardern confirmed work had been underway for weeks on the prospect of forming a bubble, and the ability to move between parts of both countries that were not affected by the coronavirus pandemic, The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.
She said that earlier discussions with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison looked at a “hotspot arrangement” between the two countries.
“We were always open to this. Our view was that we would always be able to get movement between Australia and New Zealand open sooner if they were taking a hotspot or state-by-state approach.
“Currently everything that’s coming in and out of Australia and New Zealand has travellers coming in and out of Covid areas so you have to completely segregate those fliers,” Ardern added.
The Prime Minister said that it was important to know how Australia was dealing with border issues before any flights took off but gave no timeframe.
Ardern further said that she would be discussing the issue with Morrison soon.
Plans for a travel bubble between the two countries have been in discussion for months, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said in a news report.
However, the talks were disrupted after a resurgence new cases in Melbourne and also a second wave of the virus in Auckland.
On Sunday, Australian Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham yesterday said he hoped Aussies would be able to travel to New Zealand by the end of 2020, The new Zealand Herald reported.
“We’re working hard to make sure every safety precaution and measure is in place through our airports, our border protections, screening processes, to make sure people can travel safely between Australia and New Zealand without risk of encountering other air travellers that may be coming in from higher risk countries.
“Ultimately, whether New Zealand opens up to Australia will be a matter for New Zealand, but we are working to make sure we’re ready and hopefully we can see those steps taken this year,” he added.