By Stephen Wright
WELLINGTON, New Zealand--New Zealand said it will allow quarantine-free travel from Australia, the first significant easing of its pandemic-related border controls since the country was shut to nearly all travelers a year ago.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference on Tuesday that the so-called travel bubble with Australia will begin on April 19.
Australia has allowed quarantine-free travel from New Zealand since October but New Zealand did not reciprocate, partly due to small Covid-19 outbreaks in both countries.
Ms. Ardern said the risks of transmission of the virus in Australia and New Zealand are low but travelers should be aware that the quarantine-free travel arrangements could be disrupted by outbreaks in either country.
Before the pandemic, Australia accounted for about 40% of visitors to New Zealand. About 15% of visitors to Australia are from New Zealand.
The easing of New Zealand's controls is likely to be a boost for small businesses that rely on tourism and for companies such as Auckland International Airport Ltd. and Air New Zealand Ltd.
Aided by remote island geography, both Australia and New Zealand limited the spread of Covid-19 through strict lockdowns and border controls. Combined, they have had fewer than 1,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 06, 2021 00:31 ET (04:31 GMT)Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.