MANILA – Australia and New Zealand on Friday announced the partial opening of their borders for travel between neighboring countries.
Passengers will be able to fly to the Australian cities of Sydney and Darwin without undergoing quarantine starting October 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered COVID-19 hot spots, Transport Minister Michael McCormack said.
But New Zealand will continue to urge travelers from Australia to undergo a two-week hotel quarantine upon arrival.
“We want to open Australia to the world,” said McCormack. This is the first part of it.
The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said a return to international travel would begin with the so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble.
Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand has a low risk of transmitting COVID-19 to Australia, McCormack said.
But travelers who have visited New Zealand’s “hot spots” – defined as territories that have reported three new infections a day for three days – will not be released from quarantine.
The capital of South Australia’s state, Adelaide is likely to be the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand, McCormack said.
When New Zealand allows quarantine-free travel from Australia is a question for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, he said.
Australian states and territories have restricted movement across their borders to reduce the spread of the pandemic, particularly from the state of Victoria which has caused 802 of the 888 coronavirus deaths in the country.
Other developments from the Asia-Pacific region:
– Deaths from COVID-19 in India are approaching 100,000 with another 1,095 deaths reported in the last 24 hours. An update by the Ministry of Health on Friday raised India’s death toll to 99,773. Reported deaths are low for a country of nearly 1.4 billion people and more than 6.3 million cases of coronavirus infection, but experts say that may not be counting the many deaths. The ministry also reported 81,484 new cases of infection on Friday. The total number of cases jumped from 1 million in mid-July to more than 6 million in less than two and a half months. New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru are the main urban centers of infection, accounting for one in every seven confirmed cases and one in every five deaths in the country.
– Two of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines have partially reopened, drawing only a fraction of the usual large crowds due to continued coronavirus restrictions. Tourism Minister Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said 35 local tourists came on the first day of the reopening of Boracay, a central island known for its fine white sand, blue waters and stunning sunsets. Only local tourists from areas with low-level quarantine designations can leave, subject to safeguards, including tests that show visitors are coronavirus-free. The mountain town of Baguio, considered a summer hideaway because of its pine trees, cool breezes and scenic highland views, has reopened only to tourists from the northern region, he told ABS-CBN News. He said the revival of the tourism industry was carried out “very slowly, carefully,” adding mayors and governors must approve the reopening of tourism spots. “We really have to be careful,” he said. As in most countries, the pandemic has devastated the tourism industry in the Philippines, which now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia of more than 314,000, with 5,504 deaths.
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