Australians have been warned that they are not able to use the trans-Tasman bubble as a pathway to go further overseas – and could face imprisonment if they do so.
With international borders still firmly closed, thousands of desperate Aussies wanting to get back to their lives and families overseas over 12 months of forced separation have been warned they could face massive fines and even imprisonment if they use the quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble to ‘escape’ the country.
Many Aussies have reportedly looked at the option as a way of travelling overseas without having to apply to the government for an exemption.
Currently, the department of home affairs website states that:
If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption. You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the following:
- your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
- your travel is for your business/employer
- you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer
- you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
- your travel is in the national interest.
After the trans-Tasman bubble launched last week, some were quick to discover the agreement could be used as a port to travel to another country, as New Zealand does not have laws forbidding overseas travel without an exemption like Australia does.
Border officials in Australia and New Zealand confirmed the loophole exists. However, it comes with its own risks.
Australians that now use New Zealand as a port to escape could be slammed with fines of up to $63,000 and five years in prison if found guilty under newly changed laws, amended by Health Minister Greg Hunt.
The Health Department said travellers should be aware that international travel to any other country, except New Zealand, continued to pose a “significant risk to public health”
“For that reason, outgoing travel to other countries remains restricted,” a department spokeswoman said in a statement.
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