Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a shared travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison said.The two leaders agreed to commence work on a trans-Tasman COVID-safe zone that will ease travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand, they said in a joint statement Tuesday. Earlier Ardern attended Australia’s National Cabinet meeting via video link to discuss the zone and other aspects of the fight against COVID-19.New Zealand and Australia have both had success in containing COVID-19 and avoided the exponential growth in cases seen in many other countries. As they look to relax lockdown restrictions, the focus has shifted to reigniting their economies and both would benefit if they could open the borders to each other’s tourists and business travelers. Topics : “Building on our success so far in responding to COVID-19, continuing to protect Australians and New Zealanders remains an absolute priority,” the prime ministers said. “We will remain responsive to the health situation as it develops.”The travel zone would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health, they said. Officials will work with business leaders from both nations as the plan develops.“A trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends,” the two leaders said. “We need to be cautious as we progress this initiative. Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe.”
By Simon Cambers in LondonTWICE champion Petra Kvitova is set to play at Wimbledon this summer, less than seven months after she was stabbed by an intruder in her home, a member of her support team told Reuters yesterday.The Czech, who required four hours of surgery to her left, playing hand after the December attack at home in her home city of Prostejov, has made a faster than expected recovery and could even be ready to play in the French Open, which begins in Paris on Sunday.“She is on track for Wimbledon,” Katie Spellman, Kvitova’s publicity manager, told Reuters. “She will make a last-minute decision this week about Roland Garros.”Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, will be included on the official entry list for this year’s Championships, which will be released today.“The AELTC is always pleased to welcome former champions back to Wimbledon, and would be delighted if Petra Kvitova is able to compete in the Championships this year,” Wimbledon said in a statement to Reuters.“We wish her well with her ongoing preparations to return to competition.”ATTACKED AT HOMEKvitova was attacked at around 08:30hrs on December 20 by a man who gained access to her apartment block by posing as a utilities man, before holding a knife to her throat.In pulling the knife away, Kvitova sustained injuries to tendons in all four fingers and the thumb on her left hand. She said she was “shaken, but fortunate to be alive”.Doctors had said at the time the “best-case scenario” was that Kvitova could be playing tennis again within six months.Throughout her recovery, the 27-year-old has amazed everyone in her team with her positivity and belief that she would be back on Tour, and sooner rather than later.Last month, Kvitova said she had left her name on the entry list for the French Open, in part to ensure she had a positive mind-set as she continued her recovery.Earlier this month, she posted a photo of herself practising in Monte Carlo.The draw for the French Open is due to be made at Roland Garros on Friday.Given the physicality required to play on clay, and the stress of a grand slam, it would still be a surprise if she does take her place in the draw at Roland Garros.If she decides not to play, Kvitova is likely to look to play a warm-up event on grass before Wimbledon, the venue where she has achieved most success.One of the cleanest ball-strikers on the Tour, she won her first grand slam title there in 2011, when she upset Maria Sharapova in the final.In 2014, she won the title again with a crushing 6-3, 6-0 victory over Eugenie Bouchard in what is remembered as one of the best performances ever produced in the final.Her return would also be a welcome boost for the women’s Tour, especially with Serena Williams on maternity leave.Kvitova, who last played in the Fed Cup final against France on November 12, is ranked 16th.