LOOPHOLE > AU-NZ Travel Bubble

89 replies

TheFreqFlyer

Member since 05 Oct 2017

Total posts 52

Originally Posted by patrickk

Originally Posted by GoRobin

Patrickk...I am going to tell you again that you are delusional because not everyone or not even nearly everyone is going to get vaccinated.

Last editedby GoRobin at May 03, 2021, 10:43 PM.
GoRobin I never said ever will be vaccinated, but there will be enough to ensure the health systems are not over run and when unvaccinated people are getting much sicker than vaccinated people, then they will follow suit. If it is a requirement to enter any country then that will focus the mind. I not sure if it is delusional or not to say borders will never be open, or ant vaccers are correct, but there is an element of ‘head in the sand’.

There will come a point where borders are going to swing open and there won't be a vaccination requirement. Already there are several countries that have rolled back reduced quarantines for vaccinated individuals, so I'm not sure they will ever accept vaccination status alone as a method of avoiding quarantine. I think a lot of countries are just going to wait this out. By late 2022, the world will mostly be back to normal, but before then it's likely to be a hodgepodge of changing regulations and gradual reopenings, region by region. It will begin with North America and Europe and Asia-Pacific will be last.

TheFreqFlyer

Member since 05 Oct 2017

Total posts 52

Originally Posted by XWu

Posting here since the article “

“NSW-New Zealand travel bubble suspended” doesn't allow comments atm

Sure their country their rule but putting the entire NSW in the same basket as “Sydney” (or largely eastern Sydney to be exact) is going to remove any confidence for a few people booking holidays in NZ.

Heard from ABC News outlet that people from Northern NSW travelling to NZ being barred from boarding at OOL.

Really as the QF cancellation/refund/credit voucher program gets less flexible and generous (I don't know about Air NZ's policy) and goodness know how hotels and tour business in NZ is going to deal with request for refunds/cancellation while they are trying to restart their tourism industry, I suspect more people will simply wait for the other more flexible bubble destination like Singapore, (although it looks like they are going through a new cluster atm)

Not many people would accept having their money still siting as credit with businesses and their restrictive rules to use them

Last editedby XWu at May 07, 2021, 04:13 PM.

Not sure that Singapore will be "more flexible" than New Zealand. I suspect they will implement stricter criteria such as vaccination and/or Covid negative tests to take part in the bubble.

TheFreqFlyer

Member since 05 Oct 2017

Total posts 52

Originally Posted by Richard W

Originally Posted by GoRobin

"If we stop travel until no virus ever gets passed on then we will never travel again". Isn't that exactly what has happened in Australia and NZ. You can't tell me that either of these countries has the slightest desire to challenge their populations. You can't have a half challenge. You either let the virus into the community at some stage or you don't.

What has happened is that travel in Australia and NZ has dramatically reduced, it has never stopped because of exemptions and allowing residents and citizens to return. However, thankfully, governments are now realising that the virus will be with us for a very long time, maybe forever and are not starting to allow non quarantine travel and will expand that as time passes and vaccination increases. It does not matter that vaccinated people can still pass on the virus, governments need to open up and vaccination and travel bubbles are the way. At some point I always knew they cannot continue forever and I am glad to see these changes.

I'm glad to see you're optimistic about the future and a lot of people are, but at this point I think anything's possible. Although it seems crazy, I wouldn't be surprised if international travel like we've known it won't return. As depressing as the last almost 14 months have been, I too believe we will eventually return to a semblance of normality. Like I've said before, I think we're around 15-18 months away from that.

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@TheFreqFlyer

Not sure that Singapore will be "more flexible" than New Zealand. I suspect they will implement stricter criteria such as vaccination and/or Covid negative tests to take part in the bubble.”

And I presume you think international travel (bubble or not) for the next 3 years will not involve either vaccine passport (and/or preflight and post arrival COVID tests) vs stay at home/hotel restrictions?

I predict when NZ and Oz reach a certain level of vaccination, they will change the rule to nudge the rest of the population towards vaccination given that the cost of preflight testing is unlikely to be free and it’s about AUD200-300 atm.

It is definitely a feasible situation for Oz and NZ governments to enforce such rule on non residents, and I suspect it is not a far fetched possibility that they can extend this to residents by public health orders.

Some people like myself would chose not to book flights and accomodation to a destination that will shut borders for just 1 or 2 cases, whereas destinations like Singapore will not shut borders until there is probably 1 or 2 clusters of 5 or more cases with unknown sources.

Sure, if I get tested positive I can’t travel but then I shouldn’t be travelling anyway. The cost of preflight testing will mean I will get the vaccine which will probably reduce the need for testing (yes, I know it’s not foolproof but the authorities are more likely to demand less on vaccinated people than unvaccinated ones).

And as I wrote elsewhere, governments may not even have to enforce the preflight testing bit, since enough international carriers will start to take up the rapid testing as a requirement for service if the IATA vaccine passport initiative reflects their mindset indirectly

patrickk

Qantas

Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 584

Originally Posted by XWu

@TheFreqFlyer

Not sure that Singapore will be "more flexible" than New Zealand. I suspect they will implement stricter criteria such as vaccination and/or Covid negative tests to take part in the bubble.”

And I presume you think international travel (bubble or not) for the next 3 years will not involve either vaccine passport (and/or preflight and post arrival COVID tests) vs stay at home/hotel restrictions?

I predict when NZ and Oz reach a certain level of vaccination, they will change the rule to nudge the rest of the population towards vaccination given that the cost of preflight testing is unlikely to be free and it’s about AUD200-300 atm.

It is definitely a feasible situation for Oz and NZ governments to enforce such rule on non residents, and I suspect it is not a far fetched possibility that they can extend this to residents by public health orders.

Some people like myself would chose not to book flights and accomodation to a destination that will shut borders for just 1 or 2 cases, whereas destinations like Singapore will not shut borders until there is probably 1 or 2 clusters of 5 or more cases with unknown sources.

Sure, if I get tested positive I can’t travel but then I shouldn’t be travelling anyway. The cost of preflight testing will mean I will get the vaccine which will probably reduce the need for testing (yes, I know it’s not foolproof but the authorities are more likely to demand less on vaccinated people than unvaccinated ones).

And as I wrote elsewhere, governments may not even have to enforce the preflight testing bit, since enough international carriers will start to take up the rapid testing as a requirement for service if the IATA vaccine passport initiative reflects their mindset indirectly

XWu most have found rapid testing is all but useless for asymptomatic cases so what is the point. The UK has stepped back from it and Australia has never endorsed it.

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@patrickk

You are welcomed to have your own opinion but I would point out UK’s experience with rapid testing is affected by how they are done and how they are interpreted (negative test doesn’t take mean you don’t have it*, but if it is positive, you definitely have it) and regardless of the fracas the scheme has caused, the UK government had announced “Everyone in England will be offered access to twice weekly rapid testing for covid-19 from 9 April in a huge expansion of the government’s mass asymptomatic testing programme.”, so not sure about stepping back bit.

If you read some news item carefully, various state authorities in Oz did use them selectively for travellers and high risk groups as recently as a few months ago although I must admit the vast majority of testing is still done by lab.

At the end of the day, my preposition is based on what IATA is promoting (their vaccine passport idea is gaining traction) and they started to promote rapid testing in March 2021.


* some argue that there may be people with COVID-19 who tested negative with rapid test, but this may reflect that they are not that contagious yet, doesn’t mean it’s ok for them to move around crowd, but if they did, they are likely to be far less contagious than full blown COIVD-19 which is usually considered about day 5 after exposure to another contagious person, and/or when they started to have flu symptoms

patrickk

Qantas

Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 584

XWu see the British Medical Journal 2021:372: n287 60% of asymptomatic cases are missed meaning it is worse than useless unless you have symptoms which means you should be having a PCR test anyway. A largely useless money making venture. And you can still spread it if asymptomatic but with a lower viral load. IATA is hardly a body without a lot of self interest.

GoRobin

Member since 07 May 2020

Total posts 70

@pattrick...PCR testing is very dodgy too. I use to sell these machines. Interesting that in Australia nobody wants to discuss about the no of cycles used during testing and reliability of the results at high cycle numbers. It's no wonder because most wouldn't understand the technology anyway. You even have sewage PCR covid experts in Australia who claim to detect positive tests on your s##t! I never heard of this anywhere else on the planet. Talk about creating useless jobs. I once went to get tested and I asked for the results to be sent to me including details about the testing criteria. The clinic refused to divulge this information so I refused to get tested. I guess that some of the recent isolated covid infections in the community are either just false positives or just immaculate infections. But shut down anyway.

Last editedby GoRobin at May 14, 2021, 08:48 PM.

TheFreqFlyer

Member since 05 Oct 2017

Total posts 52

XWu,


I don't see why Australia and New Zealand would impose a vaccination or testing requirement if they're not already doing it now. It doesn't make sense. The fact that they've agreed to implement the bubble now with few other requirements than mask wearing on board the plane for passengers aged 12 and above and signing up for the contact tracing app at the other end proves they're committed to at least returning a semblance of normality. If they wanted to impose mandatory vaccines, that's something they would have done from the beginning. Even the Qantas chief already ruled out requiring them for "green zone" countries, of which New Zealand is one.

I can't see Australia imposing mandatory vaccination on it's own citizens to enter the country. It would be a breach of the constitution and human rights. Simply won't happen. Permanent residents are likely to be treated the same as nationals, while foreigners on temporary visas could be made to meet the requirement.

In most of Asia (including East/South-East Asia and South Asia), unless you're a transport operator, you can't even walk across the border to a neighboring country as a local (let alone a third country passport holder) and I don't see that rule changing this year. In other words, Australia and New Zealand, despite the 2000km distance between them are far more flexible and open than any ASEAN country is towards one another, where it's each country for themselves. A Malaysian for instance isn't allowed to freely cross the Thai-Malaysian border, even if they're in Thailand and wanting to return home. The last time this was possible was Mar 17, 2020. Whenever the land border does reopen (99% chance it won't be before 2022) it could well be that vaccination and/or testing will be mandatory, at least for a while. As of right now, if a Malaysian citizen is to be allowed entry, they need to make arrangements in advance and submit to quarantine and testing on arrival. Ditto for Thais heading in the other direction and every Asian country is pretty much the same. Cambodians heading to Vietnam - 21 days quarantine. 14 in the other direction.

Singapore will impose stricter requirements for entry including requiring, at minimum, a negative covid test before departure and possibly also on arrival. I personally will not book a flight to a destination where i need a Covid test only to test positive and then be required by law to spend 14 days in a hotel or field hospital or threatened with a draconian fine, up to 2 years jail or deportation. This applies even for asymptomatic cases.

That's the policy in many Asian countries.

To me that's far scarier than a 48 or 72 hour flight suspension in the case of the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble. If that happens, just re-book your flights. Inconvenient, but not a big deal.

Who knows what travel will look like in the future but I'm not going to speculate on how long it will take, whether it's 3 years or 2 years or whatever for the rules to revert back to the old normal.

It looks like quarantine will remain for most travellers heading back to Australia until roughly mid-2022. Then, there may be a transition period whereby some countries are treated like New Zealand (green lanes), while others will be subjected to more stringent criteria.

I believe they will base this at least partly on vaccination rates. This could mean that Americans might be allowed relatively free access into Australia by late 2022, but Laotians and Zimbabweans might not be...because their vaccination uptake is not deemed sufficient. Perhaps by sometime in 2023 it could be business as usual worldwide. Speculation - yes, but all pandemics eventually end. No pandemic lasts for 5 or 10 years either.
Last editedby TheFreqFlyer at May 14, 2021, 10:55 PM.

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@ThFreqFlyer

Perhaps I do not express myself properly but I did not expect Oz/NZ government to make the vaccination compulsory but for the next 2-3 years they can make international arrivals (residents or not) have a requirement to have a pre departure test, and an arrival test then a requirement to self isolate at own home or in hotel until the arrival test is negative (for low risk countries). The nudge I was talking about was the cost of pre departure test, which the government may decide to exempt those with vaccinations, thus a financial incentive.

the US has implemented testing rules for all international arrivals for last 5 months and they already talking about exemption for those vaccinated from movement restrictions Within the country (I don’t think the free beer or crispy crepe donut is a big deal but maybe for some it is) and I have no doubt that vaccine privilege will extend to international travel testing

I don’t necessarily like to take my cues from the US, but I suspect they will become an exemplar for IATA to showcase how it can be done for a large nation, so no reason why a smaller one can’t do it.

Whatever constitutional rights the Oz residents have, the fact is there is a cap on arrival to Australia since July 2020 and no one is overturning that yet (I am not touching that travel ban and penalties for travellers from the south continent) and if an airline, while fulfilling the requirement of the Australian government to submit the pre departure test result, finds out a person is positive for the test, would they allow that person to board and risk the transmission to those who are test negative?

I think not.

Let’s put it this way, I don’t get warm and fuzzy if I am proven right, nor will I get upset if I am wrong, I am simply pointing out what others overseas are doing now, where their next move may go to and I am thinking that if there is enough momentum Oz and NZ will simply have to follow the crowd or risk left behind in the travel industry

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@ patrickk

To be clear, the Innova and other rapid test kit were never intended by manufacturers for testing on people with no symptoms, it was the UK's government ( and increasingly other countries too) who are using it on asymptomatic people.

Why?

Because they are telling people who have symptoms or those with no symptoms but who are high risk (exposed or close contact) to go for full lab testing and get isolated thereafter.

If all people with no symptoms get tested with PCR, then everyone including those with symptoms or who are high risk groups will take 3-5 days to get their results, if they are lucky. There is no way the lab can increase that capacity to do that much test without compromising accuracy or turnaround time. And you would really want those most likely group to be ahead of any queue since they are most likely to be tested positive.

So what can be done for those without symptoms but yet can be infected? The government have no other option than to use these test kits.

They know these are not meant for people who are not having symptoms

They know they are very likely to have many people who have the COVID but not tested positive.(false negative) so the test will miss them.

BUT

unlike people with symptoms (where up to 10% will have COVID), those people with no symptoms if these, will be maybe 0.06% will have COVID.

The rapid test will pick up maybe 50% ie 0.03% of many many people with no symptoms, and guess what, the other 0.03% who have COIVD will start to get symptoms and end up getting tested with PCR anyway.

In other words the rapid tests identify 50% of the people with COVID but with no symptoms, BEFORE they get symptoms, and puts them out of circulation amongst other people.

And yes I know there will be a small minority group of people with COVID but will never get symptoms.

So the rapid test fulfill some function since no country can ever have the capacity nor afford the costs of testing every one in the country with PCR test 2-3 times a week.

And yes IATA cannot claim to do what they do without self interest, but whatever your reservations are, they are influential and like it or not they are mostly likely going to mould future protocol in international travel for the post pandemic world

Last edited by XWu at May 15, 01.50 AM.
Last edited by XWu at May 15, 01.53 AM.
Last editedby XWu at May 15, 2021, 01:55 AM.

patrickk

Qantas

Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 584

Originally Posted by XWu

@ patrickk

To be clear, the Innova and other rapid test kit were never intended by manufacturers for testing on people with no symptoms, it was the UK's government ( and increasingly other countries too) who are using it on asymptomatic people.

Why?

Because they are telling people who have symptoms or those with no symptoms but who are high risk (exposed or close contact) to go for full lab testing and get isolated thereafter.

If all people with no symptoms get tested with PCR, then everyone including those with symptoms or who are high risk groups will take 3-5 days to get their results, if they are lucky. There is no way the lab can increase that capacity to do that much test without compromising accuracy or turnaround time. And you would really want those most likely group to be ahead of any queue since they are most likely to be tested positive.

So what can be done for those without symptoms but yet can be infected? The government have no other option than to use these test kits.

They know these are not meant for people who are not having symptoms

They know they are very likely to have many people who have the COVID but not tested positive.(false negative) so the test will miss them.

BUT

unlike people with symptoms (where up to 10% will have COVID), those people with no symptoms if these, will be maybe 0.06% will have COVID.

The rapid test will pick up maybe 50% ie 0.03% of many many people with no symptoms, and guess what, the other 0.03% who have COIVD will start to get symptoms and end up getting tested with PCR anyway.

In other words the rapid tests identify 50% of the people with COVID but with no symptoms, BEFORE they get symptoms, and puts them out of circulation amongst other people.

And yes I know there will be a small minority group of people with COVID but will never get symptoms.

So the rapid test fulfill some function since no country can ever have the capacity nor afford the costs of testing every one in the country with PCR test 2-3 times a week.

And yes IATA cannot claim to do what they do without self interest, but whatever your reservations are, they are influential and like it or not they are mostly likely going to mould future protocol in international travel for the post pandemic world

Last edited by XWu at May 15, 01.50 AM.
Last edited by XWu at May 15, 01.53 AM.
Last editedby XWu at May 15, 2021, 01:55 AM.
XWu not sure where you are where it takes 3-5 days for a PCR but in Australia it is down to a day and if urgent a few hours. And yes in Australia they do try to test all close and casual contacts. There is no reason to test everyone 2-3 times a week if they have been nowhere near an infection. The reason some governments suggest rapid tests is price alone, to avoid expensive trace test and isolate procedures.

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@patrickk

The purpose of all those trials as listed in British Medical Journal 2021:372: n287 is that UK intent to use the test in every resident symptoms or not. This is reflected now in their rollout as announced in April for rapid testing capacity at home/work twice a week for everyone, so that people who get positive know they shouldn't be out moving about. Those who have COVID but not picked up by rapid testing is no better than when there is no rapid testing program at all, but the program should pick up (and ring fence) those who have no symptoms but get tested positive.

If 25 million Australians (= all people with and without symptoms) get tested today, and even if they can get the sample taken in one instant, and they just have to test 25 million samples for PCR test they will definitely not get result for all 25 million sample within 1 day.

I doubt Australian labs have the capacity to test even 10% of the total population with PCR test within 3-5 days turnaround time.

Despite automation, the rate limiting step is not the actual PCR testing, but proper sample preparation and interpretation of results (hence the various discussion of “cycles” when authorities talk about borderline positives or uncertain results in news conferences) so even if one country simple decide to increase the PCR testing machines by 10 times in response to the pandemic , for example from 100,000 to 1 million, there isn't enough lab tech available out there who are trained enough to run those machines.


Addit

I think the true testing capacity for PCR method in Australia is probably around 150k* per day +/- 10%. If true this is almost 5-10 x the capacity of what we have 12 months ago (which will be in part limited by reagent availability when every country in the world is looking for supply when China was still effectively shut down)

Without going into more technical speculation and numbers, I will let the following article do the talking (read the testing capacity bit)

Google “Could mass testing for COVID-19 prevent Australia's next coronavirus lockdown?”, it's the article from ABC website

Mind you the article made their calculation based on max test performed in Australia in 1 day which is 87500, it still gives the readers an idea what the scale of testing is required

On the other hand, UK's rapid test at home program meant they have to be ready to send out 132 million test kit every week to allow for twice weekly testing for every person (sorry, I know I did mention avoiding more numbers!)

(*Sorry again I previously wrote 250k, I meant 150k now corrected)

Last edited by XWu at May 15, 08.08 AM.
Last edited by XWu at May 15, 08.10 AM.
Last editedby XWu at May 15, 2021, 08:14 AM.
Last edited by XWu at May 15, 08.19 AM.
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Last edited by XWu at May 15, 08.30 AM.
Last editedby XWu at May 15, 2021, 08:36 AM.

patrickk

Qantas

Member since 19 Apr 2012

Total posts 584

XWu I am not sure what your point is. Australia tests close and secondary contacts. Because the UK doesn’t have the capacity to determine who they are they adopt a scatter gun approach with an unrealiable tests for asymptomatic carriers. We probably disagree but it makes more sense to PCR test asymptomatic close and secondary contacts and be 99% reliable than dodgy 40% reliable antigen tests for everyone.

XWu

Member since 09 May 2020

Total posts 86

@patrickk

If you look at my previous posts, I didn't drag in the UK experience of rapid testing, you did.

All I did was to mention probable rapid testing in flights and international arrival as a measure to screen plane passengers.

Most of the criticism about rapid testing in UK, including that BMJ reference, is related to how that used it to test all people without symptoms, to allow movement without much restriction. Hence I am trying to explain that while those criticisms can be valid if you look at it in one way, i can understand why the UK government is using the rapid test the way they did from April.

I am also pointing out that the idea of mass testing everyone with PCR test at least once, (I admit it was not mooted by you but an idea raised by many people even after 14 months of pandemic) is not practical. Perhaps I should not have included it in my response to you, but I had included it not as a rebuttal to your post, but an effort to educate and inform others in this public forum.

If by being informative to others I seem to deviate from what we are discussing, I apologise for that.

Last edited by XWu at May 15, 12.33 PM.
Last edited by XWu at May 15, 12.33 PM.
Last editedby XWu at May 15, 2021, 12:43 PM.

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