Creating a ‘trans-Tasman’ bubble

Australia and New Zealand are in talks about opening borders to each other and creating a trans-Tasman bubble that could mean we can resume international travel sooner than first thought.

Reopening borders has been touted as a “serious possibility”, according to news.com.au.

Both nations have shut their borders to overseas arrivals but have also had success in containing COVIOD-19, prompting talks of a trans-Tasman corridor being opened for Australians and New Zealanders.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week said the country had all but eliminated the virus as a result of its nationwide shutdown. There were just 15 new cases in New Zealand on Tuesday, down from a peak 89 daily cases. She has announced that level four lockdown restrictions will be lifted next week, and some businesses and schools will reopen thereafter.

trans tasman map

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said borders will stay closed “until we see a worldwide vaccine that is working”, but that an open border with Australia was possible.

“Our figures with Australia, it’s almost as if we’ve got a trans-Tasman bubble between our two countries, and if the figures keep on going that way, then that is a serious possibility,” he said.

“We are very, very mindful that any travel between our countries cannot imperil the safety and health and the good of the local people.

“That is a critical caveat … and, because of the closeness of our governments over the years and the decades, that we should be working, I believe, more cooperatively if we can.

“We can help each other, and whether talking about tracking or tracing or localised lockdowns, or whether we’re talking (when) ongoing testing will stop, we can share information and perhaps together, do even better than we are doing now.”

In Australia, new infection numbers are now below 50 cases a day.

But, even with the number of infections trending in the right direction, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there were no active plans to change Australia’s current border polices.

“We are aware of their interest in that. It has not got much beyond that,” he said.

“So we are aware of that, but we are not at present contemplating any border changes at the moment.

“We will work closely with New Zealand; we have all along.”

Ms Ardern said her priority was not opening borders but reducing the spread of coronavirus.

“Both of us 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,” she said.

“For both of us, I anticipate the border restrictions will be present for a long time, so it becomes whether or not there’s anything we can build into our border restrictions that take into account our goals to keep COVID out for both of us.”

New Zealand is regularly voted the top international destination for YourLifeChoices members, with many also placing it number one on the travel wish list.

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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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