Asia Today: Australia, New Zealand to partially open borders

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People walk past a screen showing the news report that President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Tokyo. President Trump said Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, just a month before the presidential election and after having spent much of the last year largely downplaying the threat of the virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

MANILA – Australia and New Zealand on Friday announced a partial opening of their borders to travel between the neighboring countries.

Passengers will be able to fly to the Australian cities of Sydney and Darwin without going into quarantine from Oct. 16 if they have spent at least two weeks in parts of New Zealand that are not considered to be a COVID-19 hot spot, Transport Minister Michael McCormack said.

But New Zealand will continue to insist on travelers from Australia going into hotel quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

“We want to open up Australia to the world,” McCormack said. “This is the first part of it.”

The two countries separated by the Tasman Sea have long said the return of international travel would begin with a so-called Trans-Tasman Bubble.

Australian authorities have concluded that New Zealand posed a low risk of COVID-19 transmission to Australia, McCormack said.

But travelers who have visited a New Zealand “hot spot” — defined as a region that has reported three new infections a day over three days — would not be exempt from quarantine.

The South Australia state capital Adelaide would likely become the next city to allow quarantine-free travel from New Zealand, McCormack said.