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Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, Australia, in February. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand have agreed to "safe travel zone" plan that will be gradually rolled out, Australian Deputy PM Michael McCormack announced Friday.

Details: McCormack said the travel "bubble" will initially see Kiwis who aren't in a COVID-19 hot spot permitted to fly to New South Wales and the Northern Territory from Oct. 16 without mandatory quarantine. But NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made clear that Kiwis will have to go into quarantine upon their return.

The big picture: NSW has had no new COVID-19 local cases for a week, and the NT has had no infections for two months. New Zealand has 11 cases after containing its second outbreak to the city of Auckland.

  • The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda will decide when Aussies may visit NZ, McCormack said. Ardern said ahead of the announcement "we're not ready to have quarantine-free travel with Australia," per TVNZ.
"Even if Australia, and we've acknowledged that they may, open up the borders one-way for New Zealanders to go in without quarantine, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to go into quarantine on return. In fact, at this stage, they will."
— Ardern

Go deeper: Polls open in New Zealand's "Covid election"

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Jan 12, 2021 - Health

WHO warns world won't achieve coronavirus herd immunity in 2021

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan warned Monday herd immunity is unlikely to be achieved this year despite COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out.

The big picture: Mass coronavirus vaccinations are under way in the U.S. and across the world. Moderna said Monday its vaccine would provide immunity against the virus for at least a year. But Swaminathan told a briefing even if immunity "happens in a couple of pockets, in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world" in 2021. "It takes time to scale the production of doses," she said.

Updated Jan 12, 2021 - Health

Third lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19 after Capitol Hill siege

Schneider. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Three Democratic lawmakers have announced they've tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering with maskless colleagues during last week's siege at the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said wrote in a statement Tuesday that he has tested positive for the virus after the attack last week, during which he had to shelter in a crowded space with other lawmakers.

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