West Australian Health Minister Roger Cook says he does not want to see people using New Zealand to ‘bunny-hop’ into Australia as the state weighs up how to approach the newly announced trans-Tasman travel bubble.
Free travel between Australia and New Zealand without quarantining for COVID-19 will start on April 19 but WA is concerned about what other countries may get involved.
Mr Cook said there was a real prospect WA would treat New Zealand like any other state in Australia for travel arrangements but would get advice from WA’s Chief Health Officer in the coming days.
“There’s a couple of things which come into play. Obviously it’s about what other travellers come into New Zealand and where they come from, how they are treated,” he said.
“So we don’t want to see a situation where someone can essentially use New Zealand as a bunny hop situation.
“Today’s announcement is obviously a game changer. And what we will now need to do is get guidance from the Commonwealth government in relation to the travel bubble arrangement, and see if we can incorporate New Zealand in the same way that we incorporate other states.”
New Zealanders are currently able to enter most of Australia without isolating for 14 days on arrival but have been subject to quarantine requirements when travelling back across the ditch.
WA, unlike other states, has refused to let New Zealanders into the state unless they have spent 14 days elsewhere in the country or undergo a quarantine period.
Mr Cook said the restriction on travel into WA from New Zealand would be reviewed.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it had been an exciting day to announce the new arrangements.
“The trans-Tasman bubble represents the start of a new chapter in our COVID response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard for, and this makes New Zealand and Australia relatively unique,” she said.
New Zealand is also looking towards establishing two-way travel with the Cook Islands.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked the states take a proportionate approach to any future outbreaks of COVID-19 in either country but conceded it would be up to individual premiers and chief ministers.
“We will continue to follow what I would call a proportionate response and I would encourage states to follow the same process. Increasingly, that is what we’re seeing this year,” he said.
“From time to time, steps might have to be taken to protect both countries if there is a sizeable outbreak. I think that is just assumed as part of how we all live with COVID-19.”
WA is currently open to all states and territories within Australia except for Queensland.
The Sunshine State has gone three days without recording a case of community transmission prompting WA to reclassify Queensland as a low risk state from Wednesday rather than a medium risk one.
Travellers from low risk states are allowed into WA but must still undergo 14 days of quarantine.