Jacinda Ardern expects the formation of a trans-Tasman bubble to see quarantine restrictions lifted, but says this won't happen in the 'very, very near short-term'

Jacinda Ardern expects the formation of a trans-Tasman bubble to see quarantine restrictions lifted, but says this won't happen in the 'very, very near short-term'
Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Getty.

Planning is underway for people to be able to travel between New Zealand and Australia, without having to isolate for two weeks when they get off the plane.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will dial into Australia’s cabinet meeting at midday on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a "trans-Tasman bubble". She'll provide an update at the 1pm press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

While the bubble would provide a significant boost to tourism, she said it wouldn’t be formed in the “very, very near short-term”.

“Don’t expect this to happen in a couple of weeks’ time,” Ardern said.

“We need to make sure that we’re locking in the gains that all New Zealanders have helped us achieve and make sure that we have health precautions in place to make sure we do this safely.”

Ardern said she’d need assurance quarantine wouldn’t be required.

She said the possibility of putting restrictions on travel in and out of specific Australian states with higher rates of infection, would need to be discussed, as will contact tracing.

In Australia, there have been 6,801 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In New Zealand, there have been 1,137. For the first time, no new cases were reported in New Zealand on Monday.

Ardern was much more cautious about including the Pacific Islands in the bubble, saying introducing these nations to COVID-19 would pose a “huge risk”.

“So I would want us to act cautiously and in unison with the leaders of those countries," she said.

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55 Comments

From form to date our government considers time to be the great decider. Time to wait, time to see and most importantly time for the unknowns or unforeseens to either arrive or not arrive. Safety first. Therefore based on that any open unrestricted travel across the Tasman is at least a month away.

20
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I was expecting it to be 6+ months away, so anything sooner than that seems very rapid to me.

By welcoming the aussies back the economy improves and a better economy means happy voters in just 4 months.

There will be no dingos here for at least six months unless absolutely necessary

10
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Gee, I think we need to be very cautious about this. And this coming from someone who thinks some of NZ's approach has been too cautious.
I'd like to see us return to Level 1 as soon as possible, but I'm nervous about opening up a travel bubble with Aus.
Maybe in terms of risk it's acceptable now, given their new cases are so low?
Hmmm, bit on the fence. I can understand it would really help the tourism sector, but if that's putting risk to the remaining 80-90% of the economy????....

We could throw the border gates wide open and there still won't be hordes of tourists coming through them. It will not be our govt's rules that will prevent them from coming, it will be their own financial positions and a fear of travel and being confined to a aircraft with others who could be carrying the virus.

Agree. Govt be better off focusing on getting majority of NZ back to work (proper) rather than joining bubble with Oz. Key here for Jacinda is to look like they are trying to do something - eg review.

Shouldn't happen straight away but needs looking into, these decisions take time

Whose tourism sector is this supposed to help? Ours, or theirs?
How many Aussies live here compared to Kiwis that live there, for instance?
And what is it that we have here, that's so special, that they don't have there that doesn't require a 4 hours flight, plus untold hours of connection time?
When consumers have free disposable income to apply, they will. But I'm not sure that any of us, anywhere, will have that the way we did 3 months ago.

NZ surly must be thinking tourism, ski season. Australia to the rescue.

I think one of the big things behind tourism is that the destination is not home. We all get very familiar with 'home', even the parts of it we don't travel to. Lets face it most Kiwis want to go overseas rather than travel around NZ. Different cultures, different language/accent, different food, 'not home'. That is the motivation behind this. I suggest it will likely be a good kick start, but won't provide a sustainable level for most.

Very well thought out and accurate comment Sir.

Delaying is not good for tourism. They need at least some revenue just to survive.
Ski fields are expecting only 25% customer this year, and could fill the number up with Aussies.
why miss a chance when Aussie shows a minimum number of cases a day?

Aussies have their own ski fields crying out of trade; the same as ours. Why would they come here when Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Mount Buller and Thredbo etc are far better resorts than what we have here? Sure, we are an 'adventure'; something different, but if I was in Australia this year and given the price incentives that they are going to throw me by my own ski fields, I'd stay home.

Except it used to be cheaper to fly from Perth to here, ski the week and fly back. Now who knows.

Bloody hell I'm pretty sure their ski resorts are even worse than ours. I think you are correct to imply however they won't be clogging up the lift lines here in a hurry ( at absolute min. two years). Japan is only a bit further and presents a far better option for ski holidays of any kind.

For what it is worth, know some people who travel internationally to ski annually (say Europe or US).

They will not go internationally if the travel restrictions are onerous or if they believe there is a high risk of infection.

Ski season is several weeks away at best. No rush.

How many NZers don't go skiing because of the high cost, and /or crowds. Skiing is often seen as a rich persons recreational sport. I have never been skiing in NZ myself, and it was always the rich kids at school with all their expensive gear that went skiing.This is something that the helicopter money could be spent on, local holidays for all NZers using a prezzie type card. Win win

Couple of weeks!!!!!!
They must be mad. Try a couple months at least.
I would not open this up until both countries have had at least 1 month with no virus anywhere in either country.
Labour have had so many (more than they deserve) chances and second chances to win the next election, but they seem hell bent on self destruction.
Something doesn't ring true to me about Australia's figures when you look at their behaviour.

Common sense. But better still, get the WHO to certify that both countries have eliminated it, which is what they do when a country claims they have eliminated an disease from their shore.

11
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Your headline says "not for at least a couple of weeks".
However the PM said "Don’t expect this to happen in a couple of weeks’ time".
I'd say those are quite different.

Hmm - fair point. I've changed it. 

Howzat Kezza

by Kezza R | 25th Apr 20, 5:40pm

STOP THE PRESS.
HOUSEWORKS SAYS, TWO MONTHS TILL THE GATE TO OZZY IS OPEN.

Not out! A long way to go yet.
Elimate and then open the boarders.. stupid.
1. Ozzies won't be coming in great numbers.
2. Ozzy numbers are still fairly high.
3. Dont trust the Ozzies. We'll end up being a state of theirs.

Still concerned about your stalking Kezza R on YouTube. I took a look and it's not mine lol burnt.

Western Australia and Northern Territory have closed borders. Western Australia has not had a new Covid-19 case for 5 days. Northern Territory has not had a new Covid-19 case for 3 weeks. NZ has not a new Covid-19 case for one day as at 4/5/20. So there is a possibility of having a safe travel bubble with these 2 states, all going well, perhaps in the next couple of months. (Meanwhile Victoria is having trouble with a Covid cluster at a meatworks and NSW at a nursing home.)

I think you mean 'new', not active.

You are correct

NT had two come up 3 days ago after ten days of nothing , but they only have 5 active cases so are pretty safe at the moment
ACT only has 1 SA only has 7 WA 15
so all those places you could pretty much open the borders now,
the problem is OLD NSW and VIC and keeping them from flying domestic in aussie to connect with a plane to NZ
https://www.smh.com.au/national/covid-19-data-centre-coronavirus-by-the-...

Closed? No, at this point same as here. 14 day quarantine on arrival from other states.

'It would be better to Die' - interesting video on the economic, social and mental scars of lockdown:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-52508828/coronavirus-naples-fee...

What about the social and mental scars of a health system melt down and so many deaths we need mass burials? It is still early days for this virus. A national bubble is my preference until we get a clearer idea of how to manage it. One or 2 deaths is too many when they are your family or friends.

Humanity has long recognised the need to sacrifice some for the preservation of their way of life. Would you not have waved the flag on sending our young men to war when Nazi Germany were just across the channel?
Here lies a theory. The different reaction to the Covid by Govts could be partly explained by there different desire to save as much as possible of current economic and political system vs opportunity to radically overhaul it - as is likely to be the case with Labour in NZ. Hence we will see the true vision each major political party has for NZ over the coming months.

It needs talked about and not with politicians.
Do we completely revamp our whole system? It's a failure for sure so now is the time to do something about it.
A dozen politicians for the small stuff and everything else to referendum?
Accountability of all govt departments? (There is none now)
Restructure big business so it's systems and people are accountable to shareholders etc and can be jailed....

Why shut the border for the flu? The "Hong Kong flu" killed 100,000 in 1969 USA. The Wu flu has only killed 68,000 in the USA this year - in a population that has almost doubled since 1969.

Were the Woodstock hippies were tougher than us!!?? [ Insult removed. Don't do it. Ed ]

It's been in the states for around 3 months, still 9 to go to meet your comparison from 1969, if we are comparing a 12 month window?

Flu deaths are estimates only, so it's an apples and oranges comparison. Covid19 deaths are counted deaths, then there's the issue of undercounting. The excess in all cause weekly mortality gives a clue here. One province in Ecuador had over 15,000 excess deaths in a few weeks when the official covid19 toll was just a few hundred. This pattern is repeated elsewhere as outlined in a recent NYT article.

Who the hell is Jacinta?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/chart-us-weekly-cor...

Take a look at this charted flu vs covid virus (and other deaths) comparison. If it became a year and no isolation steps had been taken (or only flu equivalent steps if you like). Well simply ... wow.

I fall somewhere between the "it's just the flu bro" camp and the "lock it all down now!" camp. Sunchap probably underestimates Covid-19 while many others here overestimate it.

In many ways it does resemble a flu, a very bad flu, but that said it is in the same order of magnitude of a flu. Yes it is worse than the flu but it is not ten times worse than the flu.

It's becoming quite clear now with the declining cases and death tolls in former hot spots, as well as not much happening in the third world, that our worst fears will not be realised. There are fewer stories about the virus damaging younger people or stories lecturing us to "understand" exponential growth.

In the old days it was far more common for people to die from flu and pneumonia. Similar rates of Covid-19 today or at least in the same ball park. If you take a look at this graph:

https://figure.nz/chart/i01a0sx5LV45oZuV-DK2aPEYpSMMUocAk

...you will see that in 1970 close to 50 per 100K people died of this every year compared to only just over 7 today. This is around 500 per million which is the Covid-19 death rate in Italy. Today that would translate to around 2,500 people in NZ, mostly geriatric patients but younger people too. I'm not sure why the death rate has fallen so dramatically. It may be because the deaths of geriatric patients who die from pneumonia are no longer recorded as such or is perhaps the result of flu vaccines. It would be interesting to find out.

i think the difference is how many it can infect compared to a flu because of the long time before any symptoms show, and sometimes people dont show symptoms at all, you only have to look at our cluster map for bluff how it spread through the whole of NZ before they managed to catch all the people and stop it and that only incurred in lockdown
as for deaths yes it does seem to have a low death rate but because it has such a high infection rate compared to the flu those deaths can add up very quickly.
so if you left unchecked it would roughly infect 60% of NZ or 3 million and at 1% death rate that would add up to 30000 people

This is Winnie applying pressure in Govt.
we’ll see more of this as Labour looks to not be seen to be throwing baby-out with bath-water

they could open for ACT, WA. NT, Queensland as these places have no new cases in the last ten days and only have a small number left to recover very much on the same level as NZ
but need to leave closed for NSW VIC and Tasmania as those places still have new cases appearing and have a way to go yet to get under control.
the other thing is there is a new test out that works within a couple of hours so they look at that for before you board a plane you get tested in the morning if all clear away you go, and make everyone on the plane wear a mask like they do in some other countries

Both countries will have to have their border policies for other countries aligned for this to work. For instance, imagine Aus opens to Singapore as well and we don't. Then someone with dual passports can come to NZ from Singapore via Aus and we would never know (use one passport to enter/exit Aus, the other to enter NZ from an Aus flight... looks like they just came from Aus, so no problem!).

Also to receive a significant boost to tourism, Aussies will have to have money to travel. Their unemployment is skyrocketing like ours, so tourism is unlikely to see a big jump. People will also be nervous about travelling at all (plane loads full of people, "well used" doors/toilets etc at all the airports etc), so we aren't likely to see a flood.

Tourism aside theres boatloads of expat kiwis and ozzies involved in specialist roles here in NZ who can't get back. The construction sector is a great example, project managers to heavy equipment operators, theres huge gaps in the workforce. On a personal note, I'd quite prefer a walkabout in the outback for my break this year...nice and warm!

I would think family and work reasons would be the first movers through a trans-tasman bubble. Tourism will only follow later. Surely you can have one domestic hol before you have to pop over the tasman and deal with the attendant issues?

Queenstown accommodation prices have halved already so now it almost affordable for a kiwi to go there

They haven't even started yet.
Amisfield resturant advertising a takeaway meal for two for 40 bucks, that would normally buy an entree hahahah

I've been everywhere in NZ at least twice although my two visits to Westport were to validate if my initial impressions were correct, turns out I was right the first time, its terrible. Besides after the lockdown I really need to spend some time in wide open spaces, the Pilbarra should be a good start...

There are international flights from syd mel and Brisbane. There 2 flights from sydney with air nz. And there are arrivals from other countries including the pac islands

those planes are nearly empty, you can count the passengers on one hand, they have been kept open for freight

But ypu cant get room to send cargo around nz.

Will the first plane from Aus carry tourists with cash to burn, or passengers with criminal history and some link to NZ?

Lol...at Customs as the plane lands...'oh here comes that delivery of 501's the Aussies promised us'
How nice of them to airfreight a plane load of Levis 501's in time of pandemic...
Well, there might be some of those on the flight but I bet thats not all that will be stepping off the plane...
It will end in tears.

Great. Neither country will be keen to travel wiodely elsewhere, and make up a decent number of each others tourism and business travel stats, along with sports!
I'm still worried that Australia has a higher level of unnoticed community spread than NZ, but time will tell. If we are careful about the process, and use the same tracing systems then it would be very successful.