Jacinda Ardern says Australia could be on the verge of letting New Zealanders enter without the need for a fortnight quarantining in a hotel.
The NZ Prime Minister is advancing talks on the creation of a trans-Tasman bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic with counterpart Scott Morrison.
“There is a chance that we could have Australia simply open to New Zealand because of our status and where we are right now, which is pretty good,” she said.
“They could just say, ‘Well, look, one way [travel from New Zealand to Australia] is fine by us’ until we work through some of the detail, and it’s a possibility.”
The NZ Labour leader, who is overseeing a COVID-19 elimination strategy, has imposed a series of criteria that must be met before opening New Zealand’s borders to other nations.
That means New Zealand reciprocating and opening its borders to Australia for quarantine-free travel is a little further away.
Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak led to an impasse in trans-Tasman bubble talks with Australia, though Ms Ardern said Mr Morrison’s embrace of a “hotspot” system would allow travel to resume sooner.
“Essentially what a hotspot system would do, it would shut down those areas where there were heightened cases, while allowing the rest to be open. And so absolutely, we can also make that work,” she said.
“What we just need to hear a bit more from Australia on is what the definition of a hotspot will be, how they’ll manage the state borders in those situations, but we’re working that through.”
Ms Ardern said opening up to Pacific nations – beginning with the Cook Islands – was “absolutely” still part of New Zealand’s re-engagement strategy as “the threshold that they’ll set will meet the Cooks’ expectations”.