With many states shutting their doors to Queensland as Brisbane enters a 3-day lockdown after authorities discovered three new locally-acquired coronavirus cases, hopes of the trans-Tasman travel bubble reconnecting Australia and New Zealand have seemingly been “popped” for the time being.
This kind of outbreak is precisely what has hindered the opening of quarantine-free travel between the two countries since New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, first brought up the possibility of a travel bubble in May of 2020 for countries or states that have shown good progress in containing the COVID-19 pandemic domestically.
But, there is certainly a good measure of hope that needs to be held in prospective travellers’ hearts considering the evidence of Australia’s efficacy in managing outbreaks.
Data confirmed to Newshub by the Ministry of Health, reveals that over the nine months to January, just three out of 23,000 people arriving in New Zealand from Australia had COVID-19.
Dr Nick Wilson, an epidemiologist from Otago University, has said that whilst “thoughtful” systems were needed to roll out quarantine-free travel between the two countries, definitive processes would need to be developed for incoming Australian travellers.
According to the doctor, these should include:
- being required to download the Ministry of Health app for scanning QR codes
- activating the bluetooth function and using it on every occasion during the first few weeks of their stay
- saliva tests at the airport
- ban on attending large-scale events and carrying out spot checks on travellers with fines for those who ducked the rules
With the ANZAC long weekend coming up at the end of next month — which is typically a busy time for travel between Australia and New Zealand — it seems that local airlines are championing the opening up of trans-Tasman travel if their flight schedules are anything to go by.
Obviously, opening up this travel bubble requires caution on both sides of the Tasman, but getting the ball rolling sooner rather than later holds the promise of an economic boost for both countries, and will certainly provide some solace to hopeful travellers wishing to head back “home” or break away from COVID fatigue in the short-term.