Aus-NZ bubble rules: What happens if there’s an outbreak
Details of the trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand have been released. This is what we know and how it will operate.
WHAT IS THE TRANS-TASMAN BUBBLE?
The trans-Tasman bubble is a safe two-way travel corridor for Australians and Kiwis to travel between the two countries without having to do a 14-day hotel quarantine at either end.
HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT WE HAVE NOW?
Since October last year, travellers from New Zealand have been allowed to enter Australia without quarantining except for during a few short periods.
In that time over 32,000 travellers have landed in Australia, the majority of them landing in Sydney.
WHEN WILL THE TRANS-TASMAN BUBBLE OPEN?
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that the travel bubble will be in place by 11.59pm on Sunday April 18.
WILL YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said previously the vaccine will not be a requirement.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS AN OUTBREAK IN AUSTRALIA OR NZ?
She said that if there is a COVID-19 case in Australia, New Zealand will work on a traffic light system with three possible responses when it comes to flights and access to its border.
They are referred to 'Continue', 'Pause' and 'Stop'.
It may mean they will pause or suspend flights.
"As you will see from the material provided, we've set out the types of scenarios that could lead to each response," she said.
"They broadly follow the kinds of decisions that you'd see if there was a case here.
"For instance, if a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you'll likely see travel continue in the same way as you could see life continue if that happened here in Australia.
"If, however, a case was found that was not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we'd likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand as if it was were going into a full lockdown.
"And if we saw multiple cases of unknown origin, we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time."
Ms Ardern said in each situation travellers in an affected state should expect two things.
"First, they must follow the guidelines locally," she said.
"Second when travel does resume and they're able to come to New Zealand again, they could be asked to do one of four things depending on the risk.
"Either, simply monitor their symptoms on return.
"Two, take a test before they depart. Three, isolate on arrival. Or, four, possibly, in some
situations, go into managed isolation for up to 14 days.
"These precautions are all part of our preparation to keep COVID out and, of course are not based on hypotheticals.
"Both countries have had border incursions and I know neither one of us wishes to export COVID to the other country. These protocols will help ensure that we don't."
SO WILL THERE BE A PLAN IF THERE IS AN OUTBREAK IN ONE STATE?
Under the national agreement, she said they would have flexibility to pause or suspend flights from one state.
"I think it's fair to say that although this adds an extra layer of, you know, complication for us as we manage potential hot spots indifferent states, it also gives us a level of flexibility," she said.
"It does mean we have the ability, if we believe it safe to do so, to potentially pause or suspend flights in one state while, if another state remains unaffected, continuing travel there. So that flexibility exists but we'll be using it cautiously and wisely."
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AUSTRALIANS BOOK A FLIGHT?
When Australians make a booking a flight to New Zealand, she said they would book what will be called a "green zone flight".
"That means there'll be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days," she said.
"They will also be flown from crew who have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time.
"Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand. They won't be able to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms.
"When they fly, they will be required to wear a mask on a flight and will also be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app for use in New Zealand."
WHAT ABOUT THE OUTBREAK IN QUEENSLAND?
New Zealand's Director-General of Health will give final confirmation of any conditions of travel that may affect Queensland by next Wednesday.
"On arrival, passengers will be taken through what we call "the green zones" at the airport meaning there'll be no contact with those arriving from other parts of the world and going into managed isolation or quarantine facilities.
"We will also be undertaking random temperature checks of those arriving as an extra precaution.
"All of that, alongside, of course, the usual welcome that we like to give those who are either our guests or are returning Aotearoa New Zealand."
WILL THERE BE A VACCINE PASSPORT?
Air New Zealand has announced it will trial a digital vaccination passport on flights between Auckland and Sydney from April.
The trial of the Travel Pass app, developed by the International Air Transport Association, will allow travellers to create a 'digital health wallet' linked to their passport.
Once they have been tested or vaccinated, the lab can securely send that information to the app, which is then cross-checked against the travel requirements for the country they hoped to visit.
Air New Zealand chief digital officer Jennifer Sepull compared the use of the app to a "digital health certificate that can be easily and securely shared with airlines".
"Reassuring customers that travel is, in fact, safe is one of our priorities. By using the app, customers can have confidence that everyone on-board meets the same government health requirements they do," she said.
"By having a place to store all your health credentials digitally in one place, it will not only speed up the check-in process but unlock the potential for contactless travel."
WHEN ARE AUSTRALIANS ABLE TO BOOK FLIGHTS?
Air New Zealand has already put on flights between Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney.
Air New Zealand is also planning to launch its new route to coincide with the opening of the travel bubble, offering flights between Auckland and Hobart.
Qantas has announced it will operate up to 122 return flights per week to New Zealand once the two way travel bubble begins.
Qantas and its budget carrier Jetstar will fly all of the 13 routes in New Zealand they operated prior to Covid-19, as well as two new routes, from Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast.
It will also fly year-round between Melbourne and Brisbane to Queenstown, routes which previously only operated during the ski season.
The services will offer more than 52,000 seats each week.
Flexible booking policy with unlimited flight date changes will be extended to their New Zealand flights.
Qantas Domestic and International chief executive Andrew David said "restarting flights to New Zealand is about more than starting to rebuild our international network, it's about reconnecting families and friends and getting more of our people back flying again".
"Hopefully, stories of missed weddings and birthdays on either side of the ditch will now be a thing of the past.
"We know Australians are keen to head overseas again, so we expect strong demand for flights to New Zealand and there are many Kiwis who can't wait for a winter escape to warmer weather in Australia."
Qantas expects the New Zealand routes to increase its operating capacity to 83 per cent of pre-Covid levels, an increase the airline believes "reflects a high level of expected demand for what will be Australia's only international destination for at least the next six months".
Virgin Australia has called the New Zealand travel bubble "a step in the right direction" but won't resume flights to New Zealand until November.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said: "We have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until 31 October 2021. A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from 18 September 2021.
"We are working with Air New Zealand to provide impacted customers with alternative options and will be contacting them directly. In all cases, options to select new travel dates or obtain a refund to the original form of payment are being made available.
"New Zealand remains a key part of our short-haul international network and we look forward to re-entering the Trans-Tasman market later this year."
WHAT HAPPENS IF AUSTRALIANS NEED TO QUARANTINE DUE TO AN OUTBREAK FROM THEIR STATE?
Ms Ardern sauid they are not planing to charge passengers for quarantine in those circumstances.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Ms Ardern said protection control audits for airports would take place over the next two weeks.
The Ministry of Health expects to have completed these and to report on them on April 16 before the bubble opens on April 19.
"If any airport is found not to be ready, they simply won't be a part of the opening that will be occurring on 19 April," she said.
Originally published as Aus-NZ bubble rules: What happens if there's an outbreak