Australia, New Zealand and Singapore talking three-way bubble?

Australia reopened its one-way travel bubble with New Zealand this week, meaning Kiwis can travel to most Australian states without the mandatory hotel quarantine.

The bubble was suspended in February, following an outbreak in Auckland, but ‘Green Zone’ flights have resumed now that the situation in New Zealand had improved.

“New Zealand’s contact tracing efforts showed the recent case identified, unrelated to the Auckland cluster, posed a low risk of COVID-19 spreading in Australia,” said Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly.

While Australia has opened its borders to New Zealand, the favour has still not been returned. Aussies are not permitted to travel to New Zealand at all and returning Kiwis still must undergo 14-day quarantine.

Read more: PM reveals which countries likely to be first in the bubble

New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins said New Zealand and Australia had done well in minimising the spread and wants to change her party policy concerning two-way travel between the two nations, says a Travel Weekly report.

“We should take the logical next step and get the travel bubble up and running,” she told The New Zealand Herald.

“Both countries have a similar COVID profile and Australia has proven a bubble can work.”

Ms Collins wants Aussie travellers to return a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling, to avoid the mandatory 14-day managed isolation on arrival to NZ.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to open a two-way corridor is up to New Zealand.

Read more: NZ PM Jacinda Ardern says the ‘travel bubble’ is up to Australian leaders

“If the New Zealand government doesn’t wish Australians to visit Australia, New Zealand and spend money in Queenstown or Wellington or other parts of the country, that’s a matter for them,” he said.

“Australia is open to New Zealand and has been for some time, with the exception of a couple of the brief pauses in that arrangement, that is benefitting our economy.

“It’s benefitting particularly our travel and tourism industry and the aviation sector, which has been most hard hit by the pandemic.

“But if Australians can’t go to Queenstown, I’m hoping they’ll go to Cairns.”

Australian Chamber of Tourism chairman John Hart expects a two-way travel bubble between the two countries sometime between June and August, with international capacity restrictions expected to lift by September.

Australia’s Tourism Restart Taskforce says outbound international travel could be allowed as soon as June.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this week confirmed that Singapore and Australia are discussing an air travel bubble that would allow travel between countries without the need for quarantine and, reportedly, on condition of COVID-19 vaccination.

Read more: Vaccine passports on trial by Air New Zealand could enable air travel

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said that reciprocal quarantine-free travel between Australia and Singapore could begin as soon as July.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the push to open borders with Singapore could threaten the goal of a trans-Tasman bubble with her country.

Ms Ardern says her country’s health-first approach to fighting COVID-19 means they aren’t yet interested in a three-way travel bubble and noted that the current situation between Australia and New Zealand is already very fragile.

Opening to Singapore in July may prove too great a risk.

“If Australia makes the decision to open up, and we think that that poses risks to us then we will reconsider,” she said.

Would you rather a bubble between New Zealand and Australia or one to Singapore?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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