New Zealand | Mon, March 22, 2021 | 8:05 pm
New Zealand is expected to announce on Monday whether it will allow Australians to travel without having to pass through quarantine, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hinted that such an agreement would only be for a few states in Australia.
In an interview with state broadcaster TVNZ, Ardern said that initial country-to-country talks had devolved into state-by-state talks because the process was taking too long. “We’ve said, ‘Look, let’s just go state-by-state,’ because it’s just a little too much effort, a little too complicated,” Ardern explained.
“Let’s just do it the way Australia has done it before us. This is assisting in the acceleration of the process.” Since last October, Australia’s border has been largely open to New Zealanders, with a few brief interruptions due to minor coronavirus outbreaks in Auckland.
However, due to more regular bursts of COVID-19 clusters around Australia, New Zealand has been slow to return the favor. Ardern did not state when such a travel plan would be enforced, but local media claims that it could be ready by the end of April.
In a post-Cabinet news conference later Monday, the prime minister is scheduled to announce her decision. As the country’s tourism sector struggles without foreign tourists, pressure is mounting on Ardern’s government to allow Australians entry.
The National Party, which is in opposition, wants quarantine-free travel with Australia to begin immediately. Earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that a two-way travel agreement was in the possession of New Zealand.