‘Emotional’: Elation as NZ travel bubble opens

 

Queenslanders will be able to travel freely overseas for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, as the two-way travel bubble with New Zealand officially opens on Monday.

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said fully-vaccinated Australians could be allowed to travel overseas, for important reasons like business or on compassionate grounds, and do home quarantine on their return in the second half of the year.

Fully vaccinated Australians stuck abroad will be the next group to benefit from those eased restrictions, which remain dependent on medical advice deeming it safe to do so.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison pictured at Jim Barry Wines in Clare, SA. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison pictured at Jim Barry Wines in Clare, SA. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin.

It is the first time Mr Morrison has flagged a rough timetable of when he thinks the "sensible next step" of easing Australia's international border restrictions will become a reality.

However, he qualified that with a warning that Australia was "in no rush" to open the borders and any decision would be done "very carefully", in order not to jeopardise the relative restriction-free lifestyle we currently enjoy while parts of the globe grapple with rising cases.

Mr Morrison said the government was in the planning stages to understand the health risks of reopening international borders.

From Monday, neither mandatory coronavirus testing nor quarantine will be required for travel between Australia and New Zealand but passengers must wear masks during flights and agree to be tracked via an app for contact tracing purposes.

Those with cold or flu symptoms cannot travel.

Brisbane mum Aroha Ngata, 30, and her son Rikihana Nikora, 7.
Brisbane mum Aroha Ngata, 30, and her son Rikihana Nikora, 7.

For Brisbane local Aroha Ngata, 30, the opening of the bubble means she can finally jet off to be reunited with her seven-year-old son, who lives in NZ with his father, after more than a year.

"I used to go back to New Zealand every two months and he used to come here to Australia, so it's been so hard, it makes me really emotional," Ms Ngata said.

"I had the flights booked as soon as the travel bubble was announced.

"He doesn't know I'm coming so it's going to be a surprise."

Seven flights will depart from Brisbane Airport to New Zealand destinations today as the long-awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble opens.

This week's restoration of pre-COVID travel has been labelled as "massive Monday" as airlines, airports and travellers gear up for the trans-Tasman bubble.

"It's massive, we're flat out, the first day of travel is crazy," an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said.

Caela Macilquham from Wynnum and Lisa Drake with son Grayson, 11 months, from Mansfield are travelling to visit family in New Zealand on April 28. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Caela Macilquham from Wynnum and Lisa Drake with son Grayson, 11 months, from Mansfield are travelling to visit family in New Zealand on April 28. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Wynnum local Caela Macilquham will next week visit family in the North Island she hasn't seen since October 2019.

"When we had that COVID outbreak in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago it felt like the bubble would be crushed," she said.

"It was very emotional waiting for that announcement."

Lisa Drake, 33, had a baby boy in May who is yet to meet his New Zealand family.

With the travel bubble now open, Ms Drake's mother will fly to Brisbane for Tommy's first birthday.

"The hardest part was not having a date," Ms Drake said.

"Living in Queensland, New Zealand is usually only a short flight away but because of COVID it was like we were locked out, because it's not affordable for most people to quarantine, plus I don't really know if I could get through it with a baby."

Originally published as 'Emotional': Elation as NZ travel bubble opens



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