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Pressure On For Two Way Trans-Tasman Bubble To Start ASAP

New Zealand's opposition has called for the immediate creation of the trans-Tasman bubble in a move that could pressure Jacinda Ardern into opening borders.

New Zealand’s opposition has called for the immediate creation of the trans-Tasman bubble in a move that could pressure Jacinda Ardern into opening borders.

Last month, the prime minister walked away from her own end-of-March deadline to remove quarantine restrictions for travellers from Australia.

Which wasn’t the Trans-Tasman bubble news we were all hoping for.

However, on Wednesday, National leader Judith Collins said the time was right to allow Australians entry to NZ without the need for a fortnight’s isolation.

“We should now take the logical next step and get the travel bubble up and running,”

National leader Judith Collins

The trans-Tasman bubble would allow free movement between Australia and NZ, while maintaining a closed border to the rest of the world.

Eastern Australian states have done their part to create the bubble, easing restrictions for Kiwi travellers late last year.

Yet NZ has not reciprocated, despite a long-running ambition to do so.

The long road to a Trans-Tasman bubble

Road New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Ms Ardern first announced the goal last May after attending Australia’s National Cabinet.

In December, she used her final press conference of the year to signal the bubble would be operational by the end of March subject to further outbreaks.

Hope was in the air and both countries have endured a small number of community cases since then.

Fast forward to now and Ms Ardern says “unpredictability” in how Australian states open and close their borders during NZ outbreaks is preventing the bubble.

She has also said the government needs to firm up a plan how to handle travellers who may be stranded overseas in the event of a fresh outbreak.

Ms Collins said these problems were not insurmountable.

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

“They opened their border to Kiwis in October and have adopted a flexible approach when there have been community cases in New Zealand. We should take the same approach.”

Calls for a new plan

Oh to be in Queenstown doing a Bungy…

The opposition’s plan would require travellers from Australia to test negative within 72 hours of travel.

While a trans-Tasman bubble has the risk of spreading the virus across the border, it would have many benefits.

Separated families have been calling for the bubble for months, as have tourism businesses and tourism-dependent communities, struggling without international visitors.

A trans-Tasman bubble would also free up places in NZ’s stretched managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) regime.

About 40 per cent of visitors within the mandatory 14-day stay system are from Australia. A bubble would therefore take the pressure off the system.

“Managed Isolation is overrun with long delays because places are being taken up by Kiwis returning from Australia when there is little, if any, risk of COVID-19,” Ms Collins said.

 “These MIQ places could be better used by Kiwis returning from other parts of the world, or the skilled workers and their families needed by so many New Zealand companies.”

Source: AAP