By Agence France-Presse
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join an Australian leaders’ meeting on Tuesday to discuss establishing a “trans-Tasman bubble” that allows the neighbours to lift bilateral coronavirus travel bans.
With both nations seeing significant drops in new infections, Ardern accepted Australian counterpart Scott Morrison’s invitation to join a virtual meeting of the National Cabinet, which brings together Australia’s regional and federal leaders.
“The meeting will discuss a number of matters relating to the COVID response on both sides of the Tasman (Sea), including the creation of a trans-Tasman travel bubble,” she told reporters, describing her presence at the meeting as unprecedented.
“Both our countries’ strong record on fighting the virus has placed us in the enviable position of being able to plan the next stage in our economic rebuild.”
Ardern said the two-week quarantine periods both Australia and New Zealand currently impose on international arrivals would be mutually waived under the proposal.
She was reluctant to speculate on when it could take effect but warned: “Don’t expect this to happen in a couple of weeks time.”
“We need to ensure that we’re locking in the gains that all New Zealanders have helped us achieve and make sure we have health precautions in place to make sure we do this safely,” she said.
Ardern confirmed the meeting will discuss the countries’ respective approaches to battling the novel coronavirus, including contact tracing apps such as Australia’s COVIDSafe.
“We continue to do work in this space, but we are not relying on it because there is simply no silver bullet here,” she said.