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Full details: The traffic light system managing trans-Tasman travel when bubble opens up

A traffic light system will be in place when the trans-Tasman travel bubble opens later this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

The Quarantine-Free Travel traffic light system. Source: Ministry of Health

Quarantine-free travel will resume between New Zealand and Australia from 11.59pm on Sunday, April 18. 

Green light

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The Prime Minister said she knows many will welcome the new travel options like she has. Source: 1 NEWS

The green light, or Quarantine-Free Travel (QFT) Continue, will see flights to and from Australia likely to continue. It includes cases detected at the border and has a low risk of further transmission.

Travellers will be advised to follow local health instructions; keep a record of their movements; stay home or in their accommodation if they are feeling unwell; and get a Covid-19 test if they have any symptoms. 

Orange light

The orange light, or QFT Pause, will see flights between the affected state or states paused for up to 72 hours. This will occur when there is a case of unknown source, but is most likely linked to the border. Travellers will bee advised to follow instructions from the state they are in; get a Covid-19 test if they are feeling unwell; watch for updates from their airline and check their travel insurance.

Travellers returning to New Zealand from an affected state may be asked to get a pre-departure test before flying; self-isolate and get a Covid test; and enter managed isolation upon arrival if they are returning from a state where travel has been paused. 

Red light

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From April 19, quarantine-free travel from Australia will be possible but it’s a case of “flyer beware”. Source: 1 NEWS

The red light, or QFT Suspend, will see a state enter a longer-term lockdown. This will occur when there are multiple cases of an unknown source. Flights to and from the affected state or states may be suspended for an extended period. Travellers will be asked to follow instructions from the state they are in; get a Covid test if they are feeling unwell or are experiencing symptoms; and watch for updates from their airline and check their travel insurance. 

Those returning to New Zealand may be asked to get a pre-departure test before flying; self-isolate and get a Covid test; and enter managed isolation upon their arrival in the country if they are returning from a state where travel has been suspended. 

Ardern said people travelling between the two countries will do so "under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’."

"People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak," she said. 

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"Just as we have our alert level settings for managing cases in New Zealand, we will also now have a framework for managing New Zealanders in the event of an outbreak in Australia, which involves three possible scenarios: continue, pause, suspend." 

Ardern said those eligible to travel to or from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight must not have had a positive Covid-19 test result in the previous 14-day period and must not be awaiting the results of a test taken during the 14-day period.

Those in Australia travelling to New Zealand will be booking for green zone flights, meaning there are no passengers on the flight who have come from countries other than Australia in the last 14 days, and will be flown by crew who have not been on any high risk routes for a set period of time.

Passengers will also need to provide comprehensive contact information while in New Zealand, including a pre-departure health declaration. They will be unable to travel if they experience cold or flu symptoms.

On arrival, passengers will be taken through "green zones" at the airport, meaning there will be no contact with passengers arriving from other parts of the world and entering managed isolation or quarantine.

Random temperature checks will also be carried out on those arriving into the country as an added precaution, she said.

They will also be required to wear face masks on their flight, and to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app while in New Zealand.

The trans-Tasman bubble is estimated to free up 1,000 to 1,300 rooms per fortnight within MIQ facilities, she said.

Roughly 500 spaces will be kept free in case they are needed following an outbreak.

Some facilities will be closed as they are only suitable for those coming from low-risk countries.

"As a result of this, we do not anticipate a large number of vacant quarantine spaces to come on stream."