NZ and Australia ‘wait until it’s safe’ to open border

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat in on Tuesday’s Australian National Cabinet meeting to discuss a lift on travel restrictions across the Tasman.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has quashed suggestions the border will reopen immediately.

“The most obvious place for that to start is between Australia and New Zealand but that’s not something that’s about to start next week,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison and Ms Ardern issued a joint statement after the National Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, committing to opening the border as soon as it’s safe.

“A trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends,” the statement reads

“Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe.”

Arguably, New Zealand stands to benefit more than Australia if the border opens. While New Zealand relies on Australian visitors for the majority of its visitor dollars, Australia leans more heavily on Chinese visitors.

But airlines, event operators and tourism providers in both nations are keen to see the travel bans lifted.

The idea of open travel has been simmering for a number of weeks after both nations’ relative success at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

On April 16, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters first suggested lifting the restriction and floated the idea of a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’.

Ms Arden said travel between the two countries will kickstart both economies and will offer “huge advantages.”

“There are significant advantages to New Zealand in terms of a trans-Tasman bubble not only [in terms of] domestic tourism, but equally we have a flow of people travelling between both countries, for business purposes, trade and so on,” Ms Ardern said.

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