New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says reopening borders between Australia and New Zealand is now up to Australian leaders.
Travel across the ditch was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the prospect of a trans-Tasman bubble has kept would-be tourists from both countries on the edge of their seats.
Ms Ardern says she won’t risk the return of transmission of the disease in her country, so the reopening of borders will come down to how Australian leaders handle COVID-19 infection rates here.
“Ultimately it’s up to Australia to decide whether or not they’ll go for a whole of country approach, or a state-by-state approach,” she said.
“Obviously, where there is community outbreak that is a no-go for New Zealand.
“Where they have border controls in place, and where they’ve had no community transmissions for sustained periods of time, that may be a different scenario.”
New Zealand has not recorded a positive test outside of its border regime in five weeks, according to the Daily Mail.
Earlier this month, a group endorsed by both country’s governments offered a blueprint on how to resume regular travel across the ditch during COVID-19.
The NZ government is already doing what needs to be done to reopen borders but awaits further action from Australia.
Ms Ardern previously said that September was a realistic target for the bubble, but in light of recent upticks in COVID-19 cases here, won’t give a time lines, as New Zealand will not risk its COVID-free status.
If Australian cases surge, New Zealand may instead look to the Pacific, as island nations such as Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands haven’t registered a single case of the virus throughout the pandemic.
Fiji hasn’t had a case for 72 days and is in dire need of restarting their tourism-based economy.
However, Ms Ardern is focusing on Australia, but won’t open a border to anyone “until we have reassurances that New Zealanders will be safe”.
“Any suggestion of borders opening at this point, frankly, is dangerous and I don’t think we should put New Zealand in that position,” she said.
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