(CNN) — New Zealand will allow Australians to travel to the country quarantine-free, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a press conference Tuesday, April 6.
The travel bubble is set to begin on Sunday, April 18 at 11:59 pm, Ardern added. Australia has allowed New Zealand travelers to enter without quarantine, and New Zealand is now following suit.
"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," Ardern said during the event.
Under the new rules, travelers won't be allowed to travel if they had a positive Covid-19 test in the previous 14 days or present flu-like symptoms. The prime minister also said travel "will not be what it was pre-covid", explaining flights could be suspended again in a case of a new outbreak or travelers might be asked to take a PCR test or quarantine upon arrival, depending on the nature and origin of the infections.
Ardern also said travelers coming from Australia will board "green zone" flights.
"That means there will be no passengers on that flight who have come from anywhere but Australia in the last 14 days," Ardern said, adding the crews operating the connection "have not flown on any high-risk routes for a set period of time."
"[This] travel bubble represents a start of a new chapter in our covid response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard at. That makes New Zealand and Australia relatively unique. I know family, friends and significant parts of our economy will welcome it, as I know I certainly do," Ardern said.
The long-awaited "trans-Tasman bubble" has had its ups and downs. The plan was first floated in October 2020, but then became a one-way bubble when another wave of cases struck Australia, meaning New Zealanders could travel to Australia mostly without issue but that Aussies could not go to New Zealand.
And that isn't the only "bubble" in the Asia-Pacific region that either fizzled out or was postponed amid the ever-changing pandemic situation.
Meanwhile, Fiji announced its goal to create a "Bula bubble" with other countries in the region, including both Australia and New Zealand, but the idea has yet to get off the ground floor. A bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was due to begin in November but was called off just 24 hours ahead of the first flights due to a small spike in cases in Hong Kong.
New Zealand's hard work toward containing the virus seems to have paid off. The country recorded just 2,524 cases and 26 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.