Well how about this then: The Federal Government, without much fanfare at all, has apparently ended the ban on travelling from Australia to New Zealand, in a move that paves the way for a full travel bubble to open between us and our Tasman brethren.

Until now, people wishing to leave the country and travel to New Zealand were required to apply for a Federal exemption, under the sweeping provisions put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That, however, is no more, with the legislation now permitting anyone to travel to NZ without prior approval, provided they have been in Australia only for 14 days prior to departure.

New Zealand does still require travellers from Australia to undertake 14-day quarantine upon arrival, but speculation is growing that NZ PM Jacinda Ardern could confirm a full and open country-to-country travel bubble by the end of today.

Almost all Australian states and territories – except Western Australia and the Northern Territory – currently permit travellers arriving from New Zealand to enter without quarantine requirements. New Zealand, however, has not had a reciprocal bubble arrangement for Australians travelling there up until this point. A full country-to-country travel bubble would re-open crucial tourism pathways for both countries, giving the sector a major boost as it slowly reawakens after the year-long COVID shutdown.

Speaking to media earlier today, Ardern asserted that a travel bubble is high on the agenda for the NZ Government, but that it will not be opening immediately and may take some time yet before it is put in place.

“It is close,” Ardern stated, “no one should expect at the end of the day there will be an opening (and) today is not the day you’re going to get that final date and decision. But we do expect to be in a position to open up the bubble soon.”

The NZ PM has previously stated that any potential travel bubble with Australia would be negotiated on a state-by-state basis, as has been the case with most of the major decisions made throughout the pandemic in Australia. That, in and of itself, stands as something of a light chide against the Federal Government’s involvement with pandemic-related issues.