Long-awaited travel bubble could begin 'within weeks'

There are hopes an international travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will be established by the end of the year.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said opening up an international border with NZ would be a "great step" and work is being done to make sure this can be done in a safe way.

"We're making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations are there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand," the minster told ABC News Weekend Breakfast.

"It's up to them as to whether they choose to open up to Australia, but we're certainly making sure that we're prepared and I'm hopeful that could be this year."

New Zealand Queenstown is pictured at sunset.
Australians could travel to New Zealand by the end of the year. Source: Getty

7News reports the travel bubble would likely first open to NSW, potentially “within weeks” from now, with New Zealanders able to travel to the state without having to quarantine. Following that, NSW residents will be able to skip quarantine once arriving in New Zealand.

Mr Birmingham said however, before the travel bubble was established, Australian states must “first and foremost” open up to one another as great progress is being made in terms of battling the coronavirus.

However, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palasczuk remains firm on keeping borders closed and said in relation to the travel bubble “nothing has been finalised”, according to Nine News.

Rules around WA and Tasmania’s borders also remain strict, with people required to register for a G2G PASS before entering.

New Zealand welcomes travel bubble plan

New Zealand’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Winston Peters told the Today Show on Monday our neighbour across the ditch had never given up hope on the bubble plan.

“We have worked on it very staunchly for a long time and the real issue is whether or not we can ensure that the protocols work for both countries,” he said.

“Prime Minister Morrison mentioned a very interesting concept about the trouble spots and different hotspots we might have to more focus on rather than close the whole state down or city down.

“I think personally he is right. We need to look very seriously at the concept because in many ways, apart from the end of the Auckland spike we have had, we are raring to go and the sooner to get going the better.

Pictured is a check-in board at the international airport.
With states doing well to battle the coronavirus, a travel bubble could soon open with New Zealand. Source: Getty

“Personally if we can ensure that both Australia and New Zealand are safe in what we seek to do, it is very important that we get our tourism back on track as fast as we possibly can.”

Mr Peters added the bubble would likely to be open to NSW, with it recording its first day of zero new cases on Sunday for the first time in three months, as well as Tasmania and Queensland.

“But it is over to the authorities to ensure that it happens both ways,” he said.

The Foreign Minister added it was realistic the bubble could happen much sooner than Christmas.

“If we have the safe travel and tracing operations running as they should ... then I think it can be much, much sooner,” he said.

With AAP

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