New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be joining Australia’s National Cabinet meeting tomorrow to contribute to the discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic response, including the potential of the ‘trans-Tasman Bubble’.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison invited Ms Ardern to the meeting with all state and territory premiers and chief ministers to flesh out how the national can re-establish safe travel between each other.
The ‘bubble’ concept is a possibility because of both nations’ low rate of new coronavirus infections and a declining number of active cases since shutting down their borders in March.
Australia has 869 active cases, and New Zealand has 211 as of publication.
If such an arrangement could be made, it would be an important step in kick-starting the tourism industry for both economies which have been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, bringing commercial travel to a grinding halt.
For the ‘bubble’ to work it would require a new set of strict guidelines for travel.
The government is encouraging more Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to assist with tracking cases of coronavirus as it attempts to slowly loosen restrictions, and Mr Morrison is expected to suggest to Ms Ardern a similar app be developed for New Zealand.
Though there are very few flights going in and out of Australia at the moment, all international arrivals are still subject to a 14-day quarantine under observation before they can return to their homes, with Queensland, WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory enforcing additional quarantine measures when arriving from interstate too.
But if the 2000km route between New Zealand and Australia were to open up later this year to tourists, people might have to expect a few more hurdles while travelling through airports, like temperature checks, COVID-19 tests, and detailed itinerary information to be supplied, as added safety measures.
“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Mr Morrison said last month.
“That is a situation we would all like to be in, but of course, our number one focus at the moment is making sure that both our countries are in the position where we’re domestically managing COVID-19 to a point where we can with confidence open borders,” Ms Ardern added last week.
“One thing I’m not willing to do is jeopardise the position that New Zealand has got itself into by moving too soon to open our borders – even to Australia.”
The ski season is in September in New Zealand, and every year thousands of Aussies make the trip, with travel and work permitted indefinitely across the ditch with an Australian passport and likewise for Kiwis in Australia.
Almost 40 per cent of international arrivals to New Zealand are from Australia, heavily contributing to the country’s greatest industry – tourism.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters seemed enthusiastic about the ‘bubble’ being established between the two nations, but also urged caution.
“[We’re] two of the most integrated economies in the world. The idea of a bubble with Australia was floated two weeks ago, and this is an example of the sort of action that could happen within it, while always ensuring the protection of public health,” he said.
“Officials in both countries are considering all aspects of the trans-Tasman concept, and planning how this could happen more broadly. A trans-Tasman bubble needs to be carefully managed as we move out our COVID-19 restrictions.”
Is Trans-Tasman travel on the horizon? New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern to join Australian’s National Cabinet tomorrow. See the full story 9News at 6pm.
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