New Zealand travel bubble "on the backburner", may not open until 2021

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says recent Covid-19 outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney have put the travel bubble on hold.

By David Flynn , August 3 2020
New Zealand travel bubble

Pack your passport and snow gear away: the Australia-New Zealand 'travel bubble' won't be happening this winter, and it might not happen at all until next year.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has scotched previous plans to reopen flights across the Tasman in the coming months following a surge of new coronavirus cases in Victoria and New South Wales, saying the prospects of that trans-Tasman travel bubble is now a "long way off."

“Anywhere where we have Covid-free travel they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time – obviously this is going to be some time away now for Australia,” Ardern told The AM Show, reiterating that before quarantine-free travel could commence to any country, including Australia, that country would need to record 28 continual days with no community transmission.

By comparison, it's been over three months since New Zealand last saw a case of Covid-19 with no known source. 

“The trans-Tasman bubble, obviously not anytime soon," Ardern predicted. “It will be on the backburner for several months."

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran sees an even longer stretch ahead before Aussies ands Kiwis can dust off their passports.

While the travel bubble “felt a little bit closer eight weeks ago," Foran told a parliamentary committee last week, "now it feels that possibly, that maybe, at best, (it could come at) the end of this year, and probably more likely next year."

How the trans-Tasman bubble burst

The establishment of a Covid-safe corridor between the two countries was first floated in May, when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed discussions with Ardern due to the two counties being on "similar trajectories" in tackling COVID-19, Morrison said.

"If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that's New Zealand.”

Ardern agreed that both countries “have the same goal in mind at the moment – get it under control in our own countries and then we can talk about together what we’re able to achieve."

A detailed blueprint for how travel would reopen was to be tabled at the end of June by the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group comprised of government agencies, health experts, airports, Qantas and Air New Zealand, with hopes that passenger flights might recommence in July or August, although Ardern later said that September was a more realistic timeframe.

As Melbourne's 'second wave' took hold in July and Victoria found itself shut off from other states, Ardern suggested that trans-Tasman travel might resume on a state-by-state basis.

"We have a system that would work with a state-by-state approach or a whole country approach," she noted. "If it's whole country we'll be waiting, because obviously there is community transmission in Victoria and we can't risk that."

With a New Zealand general election now set for September 19, reopening the country to some Australia travellers – especially with the ski season now underway – could deliver a massive tourism-driven boost to the economy, but carries the risk of a vote-flipping coronavirus outbreak, and Arden says she won't be moved on her desire to eradicate Covid-19 from New Zealand.

Also read: Gettting an Australian travel ban exemption is easy for some, hard for too many

 

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Thank you Victoria.

03 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

I'd have thought the case for Tasmania-NZ flights was still strong, but Tasmania isn't mentioned in any of today's analysis.

Things are much easier when you're an island (with one policy). If only we could rely on Dutton to handle our national borders as per, you know, his job description...

26 Jun 2020

Total posts 4

lol.. told you so everyone.. unless an effective cure or vaccine is found, forget about international travel.

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

The rest of the world will be open, yet in 2022 it's likely that New Zealand will still be closed.

The goal of Australia having to have 28 days of no community transmitted covid-19, is going to be near impossible to meet this year.

If anything the current New Zealand Government has set there stand so high, they will find it near impossible to reopen to any country.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 263

Indeed, there is a good chance NZ will be closed for years, and the long term cost hard to comprehend as they are obviously betting everything on a vaccine, they could become People's Republic of New Zealand, stuck in time.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 190

It has cost the team of 5 million nearly NZ$30 billion to be COVID19 free. I don't think the team wants another level 3 or level 4 regional or national lockdown.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Cavemanzk not sure the whole world is opening. It seems the second wave is quickly closing borders in very many places.

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 35

I believe Melbourne is the only city in the western world that is locked down almost entirely.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

I think Barcelona is in full lockdown and Manchester is also under severe restrictions but not sure on curfews. They are certainly not opening up.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Also Leicester

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 35

Barcelona is not on lockdown.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Galicia and towns in Catalonia

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Ireland just announced three counties in lockdown one bordering Dublin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1224

Quelle surprise.

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 35

Wow. How quickly the exceptionalism of Australia devolves into blame and anger when it is realised how unexceptional it is.

This is a virus. You may have suppression or containment, but elimination is not on the cards until there's a vaccine or until it dies out. What NZ has is not elimination, it's containment - from the outside world.

It's a strategy, but it's not realistic in the long term. Australians need to stop blaming Victorians, foreigners, Americans, travelers, quarantine, whatever - and do what needs to be done: wear a mask, stay away from indoor dining and pubs, socially distance, and work from home if you can.

That's the science. And it's not impossible. It works with HIV, it works with the flu. It works in New York, it works in Tokyo. Just do it.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

nyjoe4 well said!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2018

Total posts 4

My favorite part of this is "it's not realistic in the long term"

Is the only option to have these rolling lock-downs until a vaccine is available AND widely distributed?

05 Feb 2020

Total posts 22

Im currently in Texas, qantas flight home was cancelled some time ago. Its curious to watch the panic in Australia as oposed to whats happening in the US. It sounds like Nazi Germany back home so I prefer whats happening here. They arent running from it and wont stop living, despite the media hype, just using Nyjoe4 ' s aproach. : wear a mask, stay away from indoor dining and pubs, socially distance, and work from home if you can. Its working slowly but steadily.

Yep, there have been some deaths and the figures look high but against a population this size they are quite small. Many more die each year from heart related diseases let alone cancer etc. Only time will tell which aproach is the most effective so we shall see, but if an effective vaccine is a long way off and your hiding in the closet there wont be much left to go back to when the dust settles.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2018

Total posts 4

Exactly this. "Then show must go on"

US and UK are by no means the shining examples.

AU government and health systems should be able to tolerate X amount of cases without locking down borders, economies etc. Victoria the obvious exception as they need a few weeks to get the 500-700 cases per day under control.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Ollick the question is the size of X. 500 is certainly too many but the NSW government suggests 10 unknown community transmissions can stretch the tracing capacity. If each person interacts with ten who each interact with ten then the numbers quickly grow.

06 Jan 2017

Total posts 10

Brett132, have you really seen the figures re deaths in the USA.

31 Mar 2020

Total posts 10

New Zealand travel bubble

~i have a pin~

07 May 2020

Total posts 38

Dwelling in hope of a vaccinated future is easier than confronting the reality, which is that this virus is never going to disappear.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

GoRobin you are right it won't disappear but in the end it will be managed possibly with annual vaccinations like flu or by anti-viral treatments like many others viral conditions. The issue is that these options will be a year or so down the track so there will be some limits on all sorts of things for a while. Hopefully regional travel won't be that far away.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 303

south australia which has direct flights to auckland was largely overlooked in all of this.next to no cases.i was counting on maybe if the price is right getting a few days off over christmas(24-27 december)for a mini trip returning home on the 28th in time to recommence work on the 29th of the month depending on flight schedules.

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 35

So were mine, and I said nothing incendiary. Very odd, BT.

05 Feb 2020

Total posts 22

Paddy1916, yes I have been following death numbers in the US. The thing I constantly remind myself of is no matter how bad it looks on the television, consider the size of the population.

The current figures are .00048% of the population have died from covid and thats with deaths from other conditions thrown in, seems they are lumped together for some reason. For a pandemic Im amazed at how low it is, despite the sadness associated with it all and potential ongoing conditions.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 915

Brett mortality rate across the population depends on how many have it. In the US it is 5m of which around 3% die. That is very high for anything. Then there is hospitalisations, for how long, and then the chronic long term effects. A 20% hospitalisation rate is also very high. All in all it makes sense to keep it under control and the Reproduction rate below 1.


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