BusinessNZ has welcomed news of the Government’s desire to begin quarantine-free travel with Australia by end of March 2021, saying clear signals on timelines for border development will help businesses to plan their next steps.
The proposed travel bubble would depend on the Australian Government’s agreeing to lift its quarantine requirements and the current COVID situation in both countries remaining unchanged.
BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope says the move would be a natural extension of New Zealand’s current COVID-19 response.
The current rules allow people to travel to Australia without quarantine if they’ve been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and have not been in a hotspot with a three-day average of more than three cases a day, and if they travel on flights which only carry travellers who meet those requirements.
Kirk applauded the NZ Government for moving towards a risk-management approach to COVID-19.
"BusinessNZ has consistently advocated for opening the border in stages, according to risk levels.
"It makes sense to have different rules for travel with countries based on their level of risk, and to open first to those countries where the risk of transmission is lowest.
"A bubble with the Cook Islands in the first instance, followed by a bubble with Australia, is an appropriate plan for New Zealand."
He says the trans-Tasman bubble plan would need to take account of the possibility of the virus resurging in either country and contain provision for rapid response to any new risk arising.
"The bubble will free up valuable spots in MIQ for travellers from higher risk countries. We look forward to welcoming critical workers, customers and investors to New Zealand as we are able to safely manage with the border restrictions.
"It will also be important for New Zealand’s border management capability to be expanded and improved to protect against risk, and to help us grow and maintain economic activity in the wake of the pandemic," says Kirk.