Australians looking to use New Zealand as a port to go overseas could be slapped with a massive fine or even be jailed under newly changed laws.
Since the two neighbouring countries entered into the quarantine-free arrangement on Monday, thousands of people have travelled between the ANZAC nations.
Some were quick to point out the Kiwi nation could be used as a port to travel further abroad, as New Zealand does not have laws forbidding overseas travel without an exemption like Australia does.
But Health Minister Greg Hunt was quick to put an end to the scheming, amending the Biosecurity legislation to specify that Australians could not use NZ as a port to go overseas.
Under the Act, which was amended on Monday, anyone who breaks the rules can be fined up to $63,000 with the minimum penalty being $6300.
They could also face five years in prison if found guilty.
However, the changes exclude those who must travel for compassionate reasons, such as where a close family member is seriously ill or has died or for urgent medical treatment.
Australia closed its international borders in March last year in a bid to stop COVID-19 from spreading across the nation.
Residents have been banned from leaving the country without an exemption, with Australian citizens being the only people allowed to enter.
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 statement.
“Australians considering travel outside of Australia or New Zealand are still required to apply for an exemption from the outgoing travel restrictions through ABF, and ensure they review the information available on Smartraveller relevant to their destination.”
Hundreds of people travelled to Sydney Airport to board the first flights bound for NZ on Monday.
At the time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said starting the trans-Tasman bubble was a “milestone” and a key move in both tourism and economic recovery for both nations.
“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for ANZAC Day,” Mr Morrison said.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID and two-way flights are an important step in our road out.”