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New Zealand has agreed to open a quarantine-free travel corridor with Australia in a major boost for its ailing tourism industry.

The so-called travel bubble will open on April 19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday in Wellington. It will restore unrestricted, two-way travel between the two neighbors for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close their international borders more than a year ago.

"Our team's success in managing COVID-19 and keeping it out over the past 12 months now opens up the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and resume Trans-Tasman travel," Ardern said in a news conference.

New Zealand and Australia are among the top performers in the global battle against the virus -- New Zealand has consistently topped Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking and Australia currently lies third. But both have also suffered sporadic outbreaks requiring regional lockdowns.

Brisbane, Australia’s third most-populous city, entered a three-day lockdown last week after the U.K. strain of the virus was discovered in the community.

One of the difficulties in establishing an international corridor between the two nations has been working out how to react when there are localized outbreaks at either end.


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