Overseas ‘loophole’ in new travel bubble

 

Australians have been given their first taste of travel beyond our borders in almost 400 days, but it turns out some travellers want to venture even further.

Since the opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble across the ditch, Aussie travellers have been quick to jump on the apparent 'loophole' which means you can travel further than just a visit to New Zealand.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Australian and Kiwi border officials have confirmed that a loophole of sorts does exist for Australians willing to fly into New Zealand, wait a few days and then book a flight to a third country. However there is a catch.

Not only will some face quarantine measures at the final destination (such as the UK) and a COVID-19 test, but also face the risk of not being able to return home to Australia, given there is still about 35,000 Australians still stranded overseas.

And the other factor is of course enduring two weeks of hotel quarantine at your own expense when you do make it back Down Under - which costs thousands of dollars.

Currently, there is a cap on international arrivals of 6000 people a week, which has forced Australians to pay up big for business class fares to secure a seat on a plane.

Quarantine-Free Trans Tasman Travel Bubble Between Australia and New Zealand Begins
Quarantine-Free Trans Tasman Travel Bubble Between Australia and New Zealand Begins

In March 2020, the Federal Government imposed a strict 'Do Not Travel' ban on Australians, meaning very few exemptions have been issued for those who want to leave the country over the past 14 months.

But because New Zealand doesn't have the same rule, the loophole could technically be used by Aussies wanting to spend that summer in Europe.

"Currently, New Zealand does not prevent Australian citizens leaving New Zealand and travelling onwards overseas," a spokesperson from the Australian Border Force told AFR, noting residents must still "apply for an outward travel exemption".

"Those who travel onwards from New Zealand to another international destination must be aware that returning to Australia or New Zealand may be difficult due to the current restrictions on passenger numbers and the availability of flights."

Across the ditch, a New Zealand Customs spokesperson told 9News it has "no power" to stop Australians travelling onwards.

"This is a domestic issue for the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Border Protection," a spokeswoman said.

"The New Zealand Customs Service has no role or power to prevent the further departure of Australian citizens to overseas destinations from New Zealand."

Champagne and music pre-flight to kick off the New Zealand travel bubble. Picture: Jenny Hewett
Champagne and music pre-flight to kick off the New Zealand travel bubble. Picture: Jenny Hewett

While around 100,000 Australians were granted approval to leave the country, thousands were refused.

According to Home Affairs, some of the reasons permission is granted includes; for work; for medical treatment; for a 'compelling reason' for over three months; on compassionate or humanitarian grounds, or in the national interest.

The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.



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