Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern responds to Australia's 'hotspot' plan to invite Kiwis in quarantine-free

Australia's plan to grant Kiwis from COVID-19-free areas access to some states without spending time in quarantine upon arrival will not be reciprocated by New Zealand. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday every state and territory except Western Australia had agreed to a "hotspot" plan which would reduce the need for hard borders between them, and New Zealand would be included. 

"I spoke to Prime Minister Ardern this morning and what I advised her was that Australia will be looking to apply the same hotspot approach to New Zealand," Morrison said in a news conference. 

"That means when we're in a position to do so, and when the acting chief medical officer has come to a set of arrangements with New Zealand, then we would be able to have New Zealanders come to Australia."

He said it would be up to Ardern to decide if New Zealand took the same approach. 

"That doesn't mean Australians can go to New Zealand, that's a matter for Prime Minister Ardern, but if there's no COVID in Christchurch, and there's no COVID in Queensland, then there's no reason both of them can't come to Sydney."

Ardern confirmed on Monday that it will not be reciprocated, but she said work is continuing on the broader trans-Tasman bubble, which would allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries. 

"There are a number of countries that already have quarantine-free for New Zealanders going into their countries. But that doesn't change our requirement on return so that we can keep New Zealanders safe," Ardern said in Rotorua. 

"Ultimately, for the hotspot arrangement, it doesn't change the work that we're doing on the bubble which is focused on putting New Zealand and Australia in the position to have quarantine-free on both sides of the Tasman. 

"Right now though, neither country is in a position to offer that in its entirety because it's just not safe right now.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said New Zealand would be included in Australia's 'hotspot' travel plan.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said New Zealand would be included in Australia's 'hotspot' travel plan. Photo credit: Getty

Australia is grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak in the state of Victoria, which is going into another two weeks of lockdown. Nine deaths were announced on Monday, taking the state toll to 675 and the national figure to 762, compared to New Zealand's 24. 

Ardern said Australia's 'hotspot' arrangement wouldn't change anything from New Zealand's perspective. 

"If a New Zealander chooses to go to Australia because there is no quarantine, they will know that they'll be covering the cost of their quarantine on return to New Zealand."

New Zealanders who leave for less than 90 days are now required by law to pay for their two weeks of compulsory state-run managed isolation upon return. 

The cost of coming back to New Zealand is $3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will not reciprocate Australia's 'hotspot' plan.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand will not reciprocate Australia's 'hotspot' plan. Photo credit: Getty

Ardern warned Kiwis in June against traveling to Europe after the European Union included New Zealand in a list of countries as "safe" in the COVID-19 context.  

Morrison said allowing visiting New Zealanders to enter without having to go into isolation or quarantine could free up space in Australia's facilities. 

The Government in New Zealand has so far covered the costs of accommodation, food, basic laundry and airport transfers with total funding of $499 million until the end of year, but Newshub revealed more money will be required by October

The Government has a total of 32 managed isolation facilities spread across Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch. They have a combined capacity of 7371, and as of Sunday there were 2182 vacancies. 

In the last 24 hours, 324 people returned to New Zealand.