New Zealand says it will admit travelers from neighboring Australia without quarantine, starting on April 19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that the government is acting on the advice of health officials who said the risk of COVID-19 transmission from Australia to New Zealand is now low. They said it would be safe to start quarantine-free travel.
Ardern said, "This is an important step forward in our COVID response and represents an arrangement I do not believe we have seen in any other part of the world. That is, safely opening up international travel to another country while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and a commitment to keeping the virus out."
A resident in Auckland said, "It will just mean that my niece can come home, she's stuck in Australia, been stuck there since Christmas, so that would be good."
New Zealand and Australia have been able to minimize the spread of the coronavirus after they separately banned entry to foreigners in principle in March of last year. Most Australian states have already exempted arrivals from New Zealand from quarantine.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed his neighbor's announcement, saying the move is a win-win outcome for both countries.