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Australians could travel to Fiji despite coronavirus restrictions thanks to Blue Lanes initiative

Holidaymakers can now go to Fiji thanks to a little known travel loophole.

Australians have been stopped from travelling internationally since March 20 due to coronavirus.

But the Blue Lanes Initiative allows Australians to travel to Fiji's Port Denarau by yacht following 14 days of uninterrupted quarantine at sea, with vessels not allowed to stop at any other ports.

Boat owners must also present a negative COVID-19 test - more than 100 tourists have taken advantage of this since the initiative began a month ago.  

Kris Fothergill, his wife and four children, who are from the Gold Coast, have been sailing the Pacific Ocean since May 2019.

They docked in New Zealand at the beginning of this year and while the plan was to head to Fiji in May the family were delayed.

However, this meant they could take advantage of the Blue Lanes initiative.   

Kris Fothergill (front, right) and his family have taken advantage of the Blue Lanes initiative and are now docked in Fiji

'When borders shut due to coronavirus, sailing vessels weren't going anywhere besides home,' Mr Fothergill told Daily Mail Australia

But we weren't ready to go home and have no plans to return to Australia in the near future.'

Mr Fothergill said his family arrived in Port Denarau in late July after nine days at sea.

The family were required to have a negative COVID-19 test when they left New Zealand and after the 14-day quarantine period.  

'Ignorance isn't bliss. We are aware [of the pandemic] and the last thing we want to be doing in endangering people here,' Mr Fothergill said.

'But because we were coming from New Zealand, which up until a couple of days ago was COVID-free, we were confident we wouldn't be a burden and could contribute to the local economy.' 

Mr Fothergill said the locals were happy to see the family and described the island as 'apocalyptic'.

'We are on the western side of the island and there are all these hotels and sandy beaches with no one on them,' he said. 

New Zealand woman Jo Pullin and her family have also taken advantage of the initiative, the ABC reported.

Mr Fothergill said his family, who document their travels on a Facebook page called Sailing With Six, arrived arrived in Port Denarau in late July after nine days at sea (pictured: boats anchored in Port Denarau)

The family-of-five arrived in Port Denarau after 10 days at sea.

Mrs Pullin said she wanted to meet Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and thank him personally for allowing them into the country.

She said said in a video that was shared to the Mr Bainimarama's Twitter page that it was a great way to escape the New Zealand winter and put money into the Fiji economy.  

'The place was deserted … last year it was pumping, there were people [and] boats everywhere,' Mrs Pullin said. 

'They were quite keen to know if more people were going to be turning up.'

Mr Fothergill (family yacht pictured) said the locals were happy to see the family and described the island as 'apocalyptic'

Fiji had just 27 cases of coronavirus and recently reached 100 days without any cases of community transmission. 

In June 2019 there were 85,000 tourists to Fiji compared to just in the same month 413 this year. 

Port Denarau general manager Cynthia Rasch said it was the safest way to start opening up the country and the move was 'low-risk'. 

The Department of Home Affairs has strict guidelines on whether Australians are allowed to leave the country.

These include whether your travel is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the provision of aid, if it is essential to business, for medical treatment or urgent and unavoidable personal business. 

No one can leave the country without an exemption.

Daily Mail Australia had contacted The Department of Home Affairs for comment. 

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