Travel Trouble

The travel bubble loophole that could land you in jail

The travel bubble loophole that could land you in jail

Travellers who are considering using the newly-opened travel bubble to New Zealand to head to other countries risk receiving massive fines and even jail time.

With quarantine-free flights now available between New Zealand and Australia, news of a ‘loophole’ appeared that could enable Australian travellers to enter other international destinations.

Current COVID restrictions mean that Australians have been banned from leaving the country unless they have an exemption.

But, since Aussies can now travel to New Zealand, our kiwi neighbour could act as a stepping stone to other foreign countries.

To prevent unnecessary travel, Health Minister Greg Hunt signed off on a new amendment to the Australian Government’s Biosecurity Legislation (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential), which comes into effect on Monday.

The change will see Australian citizens and residents penalised if they travel to a foreign country beyond New Zealand unless they have an exemption to travel for a compassionate reason, such as the death or serious illness of a close family member, or they require medical treatment that isn’t reasonably available in Australia or New Zealand.

According to the document, those who break the rules “may contravene a civil penalty provision’ set out in section 46 of the Biosecurity Act.

The minimum penalty for failing to comply with entry and exit requirements in the Biosecurity Act starts at $6300.

But, the penalty listed on the Australian Parliament website is much harsher, with people who intentionally disobey the rules facing up to five years’ jail time and a $63,000 fine.

Despite still being in its early days, a new community COVID case in Auckland has Australian health authorities concerned that the trans-Tasman bubble could pop.

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New Zealand’s Ministry of Health announced the case just a day after the quarantine requirements were lifted for those travelling between Australia and New Zealand.

The case is believed to have contracted the virus from a passenger who arrived on an international flight from a ‘red zone’ (high risk) country.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new case shouldn’t impact the trans-Tasman travel arrangements.

‘These are the kind of scenarios where we would anticipate movement continuing,’ she said.

‘Our Minister of Health has kept in touch with his counterpart. They’re directly communicating and so are our officials.’

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