With Australia and New Zealand successfully managing the coronavirus pandemic and cases dwindling in the last few weeks (New Zealand have just reported no new cases of Covid-19 for the first time in a month) plans are currently in motion to create a “trans-Tasman bubble” that would allow for free travel between the two countries without a 14-day quarantine period.
Declaring that the bubble would offer huge advantages, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern (who has been praised for her leadership style in recent times) was invited to join Australia’s national cabinet meeting today via video call to discuss amongst leaders, including Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
This move follows comments made last week, where Morrison said he had been in dialogue with Ardern about relaxing travelling restrictions between the two countries. “If there’s any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Morrison said last Thursday.
So what is this ‘trans-Tasman bubble’?
Essentially, the “trans-Tasman bubble” would act as a ‘travel corridor’ over the Tasman, allowing Australian and New Zealand citizens to travel freely between the two nations.
For this to happen though, both New Zealand and Australia would have to first ease their travel restrictions, with both countries maintaining their strict domestic travel restrictions and the 14 days of quarantine for international arrivals.
Airports may also need to boost health checks and temperature screenings as an extra precaution, and travellers may have to accept they will be traced during their visit.
While it’s still in the early stages, if this were to happen it would seriously kickstart both countries struggling tourism industries. For New Zealand, where tourism is the country’s biggest export industry with Australians making up nearly 40 per cent of international arrivals to New Zealand, while New Zealanders make up about 15 per cent of the Australia’s international visitors and the industry is worth billions.
It’s a win-win for both countries.
While it all sounds promising, the future of the ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ depends on coronavirus and how it spreads. If a second wave of virus outbreaks emerged, any plans to open up travel between Australia and New Zealand would be disregarded and we would likely be placed under lockdown again.
Morrison and the state premiers will meet today and later this week to consider easing some of the restrictions imposed in Australia to flatten the curve of infections, with announcements expected on Friday.