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Announcement over hotly anticipated trans-Tasman bubble looming

Ministers are currently discussing the opening date of the highly anticipated trans-Tasman bubble. 

Jacinda Ardern - file. Source: 1 NEWS

Set to be announced at the Prime Minister's 4pm press conference, Jacinda Ardern said factors that would be considered were "the readiness of our airlines and our airports across the country, checking in on the Director-General [of Health]'s level of comfort, that it's low risk because public health has been guiding us all the way through and continues to do so". 

Asked today whether the opening date could be impacted by an outbreak on either side of the Tasman, Ardern said protocols would be applied to the particular Australian state. 

"It would simply mean if it was one state affected, we might have a particular protocol for one state but our view is we're ready to put out a commencement date.

"If something happens in-between, we'll just apply the protocols that we're creating at this time."

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Tourism New Zealand boss René de Monchy said those struggling amid the pandemic are eagerly awaiting the Government's announcement today. Source: Breakfast

Opposition leader Judith Collins said she understood the date was likely to be announced for April 19, "because that seems to be what the airlines are getting themselves geared up for". 

"We think it's taken an awfully long time. It will be a great relief for many families... It will hopefully free up some more spots in the managed isolation facilities to allow people to come back and get families reunited."

Ardern said she had family and friends "in distressing situations because we have had this border in place". 

"But, equally, I know all those family and friends understand the reason we have prioritised operating the way we have is precisely to get us in the position we are in now. 

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The Deputy Prime Minister says having Australians in the country for the ski season and school holidays would support struggling industries. Source: Breakfast

"[With] our public health approach, we are now able to take this next step."

National's Chris Bishop said there would not be an MP in Parliament who was not aware of Kiwis offshore who want to come home but can't. Freeing up MIQ spots will allow more Kiwis to return, he added. 

Bishop said he is interested in taking a trip across to Australia, should the bubble open. 

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1 NEWS understands the bubble could happen as early as the end of this week. Source: 1 NEWS

"Certainly in the next couple of months, I'd hope to get over there. A friend of mine has just given birth to twins and I've got a lot of friends in Sydney and Melbourne, like many New Zealanders do."