Australia and NZ revive hopes of a travel deal between the two countries.
Things move quickly during a pandemic.
Just last week we brought you the news that a trans-Tasman bubble was at least six months away, according to Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.
The next day Australia’s tourism minister, Simon Birmingham, said he hoped that the much-anticipated trans-Tasman travel bubble could be in place by the end of the year and the next day New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it could be in place in time for Christmas.
“We’re making sure we have all the work done, all the preparations there so that we can safely achieve that bubble with New Zealand,” Mr Birmingham told the ABC News Weekend Breakfast program on Sunday.
“It’s up to them as to whether they choose to open up to Australia, but we’re certainly making sure that we’re prepared and I’m hopeful that could be this year.”
While Mr Birmingham was coy on whether New Zealand would be willing to reciprocate, Ms Ardern said she was hopeful the travel bubble would be possible.
She told TVNZ that at least some Australian states would be considered for a bubble by Christmas.
“What we would need to be assured of is that when Australia is saying ‘Okay we’ve got a hotspot over here’ that the border around that hotspot means that people aren’t able to travel into the states where we are engaging with in trans-Tasman travel,” Ms Ardern said.
“Previously they wanted a whole of Australia approach and we said that would slow things down.
“They’re now moving to a hotspot regime where certain parts [of Australia] won’t be able to be part of free movement between Australia and across the Tasman.
“We’re working through the differences that would make for New Zealand and the arrangements we would need to ensure that if we’re opening up to one state that border is contained to ensure its safe for New Zealanders.
New Zealand currently has one of the lowest active cases of COVID-19 anywhere in the world.
Ms Ardern suggested that Queensland could be the first cab off the rank when the travel bubble came into operation as it had the least cases of the eastern states and fewer than 200 cases in the past six months.
UPDATE: Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced Friday Kiwis will be able to fly quarantine-free into NSW and the Northern Territory from Friday 16 October.
Are you keen to see a bubble between Australia and New Zealand? How soon would you be willing to travel to New Zealand?
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