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New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. Source: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images.
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  • New Zealand’s deputy prime minister said on Thursday that the country is close to allowing entry by Australian travellers without the need for quarantine
  • He said there remained a few issues to be finalised, including how travellers would be managed in the event of a new outbreak
  • An arrangement is expected to be operational by the end of April
  • There has been mounting pressure on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to open the borders since places like Queenstown rely heavily on tourists from June to October
  • Australia’s border has remained largely open with New Zealand since October, but New Zealand has delayed returning the favour with more frequent outbreaks of coronavirus across Australia

New Zealand’s deputy prime minister said on Thursday that the country is close to allowing entry by Australian travellers without the need for quarantine, in what would be the long-awaited “Trans-Tasman travel bubble.”

Australia’s border has been largely open to New Zealanders since October with the exception of a few small suspensions following minor outbreaks of the coronavirus in Auckland.

However, New Zealand has delayed returning the favour based on more frequent COVID-19 clusters in Australia.

“We were working towards a joint framework, a joint set of protocols, but actually I don’t think we’re too far off being able to create the New Zealand version to match up with the Australian version,” New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand.

He said there remained a few issues to be finalised, including how travellers would be managed in the event of a new outbreak.

Radio New Zealand reported that an arrangement is expected to be operational by the end of April.

There has been mounting pressure on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government to allow Australians entry, with National Party leader Judith Collins warning that Ardern could “end up with the death of Queenstown on her.”

Queenstown is a popular destination for international tourists and relies heavily on Australian visitors during the ski season from June to October.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last week that a two-way travel arrangement was in New Zealand’s hands.

“If the New Zealand government doesn’t wish Australians to visit New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington or other parts of the country, that’s a matter for them,” he told reporters.

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