Travel between Australia, New Zealand may restart in Sept: Minister

SYDNEY • Australia and New Zealand may reopen their borders to travel between the two countries as soon as September, The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper cited Australian Tourism and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham as saying.

The minister said in the Friday interview that the timeframe was realistic, though it would require the agreement of New Zealand's government and is subject to uncertainties such as renewed outbreaks.

A Bloomberg News inquiry to the minister's office yesterday did not receive an immediate response.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smart Traveller public notification service said on Friday that a passenger limit would be applied to incoming flights because of pressure on Sydney's quarantine facilities.

A limit of 450 passengers a day will be applied to international flights arriving in Sydney from July 4 to 17, the department said on its website, adding that the timetable for the restriction could be extended.

Australia's second most-populous state, Victoria, yesterday reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases since late March, forcing the expansion of stay-at-home orders to more Melbourne suburbs and the complete lockdown of nine public housing towers.

The south-eastern state recorded 108 new cases yesterday, up from 66 on Friday and over 70 new cases in each of the previous four days.

"These numbers are a very real concern to all of us," Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told a news conference.

The spike in Victoria is being closely watched as the rest of the country has reined in the virus that causes Covid-19.

Australia's most populated state, New South Wales, reported six new coronavirus cases yesterday, five of them returning travellers from overseas.

Overall, Australia has weathered the coronavirus pandemic much better than most other nations, with just over 8,300 cases and 104 deaths so far.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2020, with the headline Travel between Australia, New Zealand may restart in Sept: Minister. Subscribe