Isolation-free travel begins across Tasman

India locks down capital to battle virus as US hits vaccine milestone

Australia had previously allowed New Zealanders to arrive without going into quarantine but New Zealand had taken a more cautious method, requiring travellers from Australia to complete quarantine.

The arrangement means that for the first time since the pandemic closed borders worldwide, passengers can fly in either direction across the Tasman Sea without undergoing mandatory COVID-19 quarantine when they arrive.

Australia's travel bubble with New Zealand officially opened this morning, allowing citizens of the neighbouring nations to travel between the two countries without quarantining. They must not be awaiting the results of a Covid test, nor have any Covid symptoms, amongst other criteria.

The positive news from America-the world's hardest-hit country-comes amid easing restrictions for several European nations and the launch of a quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.

If someone wishes to travel under the new travel bubble, the rule is that passengers must spend 14 days before departure in either Australia or New Zealand.

Dawn Tratt's voice broke a little as she spoke to me ahead of take-off in Sydney.

"My daughter has been in New Zealand since January 2020. It's weird being on a plane again", she smiled through her tears. The start of quarantine-free travel was a relief for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators. "Be it returning family, friends or holiday-makers, New Zealand says welcome and enjoy yourself", Ardern said.


On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack also flagged early discussions were under way about establishing more travel bubbles.

The country relies on Australia for 40% of its global tourism, injecting about NZ$2.7bn (£1.4bn, $1.9bn) into the economy.

Schools in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires will open after a court overruled a federal order requiring classes go online for two weeks amid a surge in cases that has brought hospitals to near collapse.

About 1.5 million Australians visited New Zealand in 2019, the year before the pandemic closed worldwide borders, making up about 40% of all visitors, spending NZ$2.7 billion ($1.93 billion) in the country, official data showed.

Still, the leaders warned the trans-Tasman travel bubble will be under "constant review" given the risks of quarantine-free travel.

"It's like it's one big country, so it's very good to open the borders, it will help all the families", Mehat El Masri said as he waited to see his Sydney-based son Shady for the first time in 16 months. Strict border controls and snap lockdowns are among the measures that have kept infection rates low.

Australia has 29,533 confirmed cases, including 910 deaths, while New Zealand has just 2,596 cases with only 26 deaths, setting the template for coronavirus response efforts, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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