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New Zealand to open border to Australia in 'travel bubble'

April 6, 2021

The much-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand finally has a start date: April 18. In Germany, Saarland will become the first state to end its coronavirus shutdown. Follow DW for the latest.

Hiker in the South Island, New Zealand
New Zealand will open its border to visitors from Australia on April 18Image: Galyna Andrushko/Zoonar/picture alliance

New Zealand will open its border to visitors from Australia in less than two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that quarantine-free travel will begin in just under two weeks, at 11:59pm on April 18," Ardern said.

The travel bubble comes more than a year after New Zealand closed its borders in the face of the pandemic.

Though most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visitors from New Zealand for the past six months, New Zealand has continued mandatory quarantine. 

"The Trans-Tasman travel bubble represents a start of a new chapter in our COVID response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard at," Ardern told reporters

"I cannot see or point to any countries in the world that are maintaining a strategy of keeping their countries COVID-free whilst opening up international travel between each other," she added.

The country's tourism industry has said the completion of the travel bubble could inject up to one billion NZ dollars (US$705 million; €597 million) into the economy this year.

Since the pandemic began, New Zealand has logged just over 2,100 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.

Read on for a roundup of the latest coronavirus news from around the world.


Most EU member states will be able to vaccinate the majority of their populations by the end of June according to a document from the European Commission seen by Bloomberg. The document shows the number of doses that each country expects to receive.

If the states manage to use all the doses they get then the EU will be on track to immunize 70% of the population by the end of the summer. According to the projections, Germany will have enough vaccine doses by the end of June to immunize 62% of its population.

A leading official from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Marco Cavaleri, confirmed a link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and the rare blood clots found in some recipients, during an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero on Tuesday. 

The western state of Saarland in Germany will become the first state in the country to end a coronavirus shutdown.

The small state is looking reopen outdoor restaurants, cinemas, theaters, gyms and indoor tennis courts as part of a pilot program.

Guests and customers must be able to present a negative rapid COVID-19 test, which must not be older than 24 hours.

In addition, up to ten people can meet outdoors if they have tested negatively. The state government hopes that with the "Saarland Model," residents can have more freedom again. The plans have sparked controversy in Germany, as the country battles a third wave.

"After a year in the pandemic, we have to think of more than just closing and restricting," Saarland's Premier Tobias Hans said, adding that "no coronavirus infection will go undetected."

Saarland's seven-day incidence of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants has
remained consistently below 100. On Sunday, the metric measured 88.2.

Data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Tuesday showed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 6,885 to 2,900,768. The reported death toll increased by 90 to 77,103.

Germany hit by 3rd virus wave

Denmark says it will reopen hair and beauty salons to "coronavirus passport" holders proving they have been vaccinated.

The UK's COVID-19 vaccine program is set to meet its targets, the minister responsible for rolling out the inoculation campaign has said.

"Supply is always challenging and supply is finite as you're seeing around the world. But I'm confident... that we'll meet our targets," Nadhim Zahawi told LBC radio, adding that 12 million second doses would be distributed in April. 


North Korea will drop out of the Tokyo Olympics this year due to coronavirus concerns, the country's sports ministry said.

The ministry said its national Olympic Committee decided not to participate in the Games to protect athletes from the "world public health crisis caused by COVID-19."

South Korea's Unification Ministry expressed regret over Pyongyang's decision, saying it had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relationsand revive stalled peace talks. 

India steps up COVID vaccination drive

Several state leaders in India have called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations to most of the country's hundreds of millions of adults, following a second surge in infections that has overtaken the first wave.

India recorded over 100,000 daily infections for the first time on Monday. The country has already expanded its vaccination program to include everyone above the age of 45. So far it has inoculated only about 1 in 25 people, compared with nearly 1 in 2 in the UK and 1 in 3 in the US.


Colombian capital Bogota will be put under strict locdkown from Saturday due to a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, mayor Claudia Lopez has said.

The lockdown will impact eight million inhabitants in the capital. 

"This weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, we are all going to stay at home... In all of Bogota, only strictly essential activities will be allowed," Lopez said in a video posted on Twitter.

Lopez said the restrictions could be extended next week.

The measures are in addition to night curfews imposed the day before by the government in the cities of Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Santa Marta.

mvb/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)