Australia and New Zealand have been two of the most aggressive countries when it comes to managing the coronavirus pandemic, and it looks like we’ll finally see a travel bubble between the two countries rolled out.
The Australia & New Zealand travel bubble
As of April 19, 2021, Australia and New Zealand intend to launch a travel bubble. In reality, residents of New Zealand have been able to travel to most Australian states quarantine-free for a while, though the inverse hasn’t been true. That will finally be changing.
As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes this move:
“I cannot see or point to any countries in the world that are maintaining a strategy of keeping their countries completely Covid-free, whilst opening up to international travel between each other. That means that, in a way, you know, we are world-leading.”
Once this is launched there will be no testing requirement, so this is about as free as you’ll find travel arrangements to be anywhere.
There has been talk of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand for many months, though this is the first time that such an agreement seems to be likely to come to fruition.
We’re seeing both Air New Zealand and Qantas add a significant amount of capacity between the two countries in light of this news, as the two airlines have otherwise been operating a very limited schedule.
What happens if there are coronavirus cases?
In the event of significant coronavirus cases, this travel bubble arrangement could change. Ardern states that any coronavirus outbreak in Australia would be treated the same “as a region of our own when making decisions on restrictions.”
In the event that multiple cases of an unknown origin emerge, New Zealand would likely suspend flights for a set period of time. Furthermore, we could see some sort of a testing requirement in that event.
When will the countries open to the rest of the world?
The borders of Australia and New Zealand have more or less been closed since March 2020, and neither country has a concrete timeline for when it will open up on a larger scale.
While both countries have done an amazing job with managing coronavirus cases, they haven’t made much progress with vaccinations up until this point. New Zealand has administered a total of 66,000 vaccine doses, while Australia has administered a total of 855,000 vaccine doses.
On the one hand, the vaccine hasn’t been as important in terms of saving lives, given how under control coronavirus has been. On the other hand, the vaccine is vital to allowing these countries to reestablish connections with the rest of the world.
The two countries are counting on widespread vaccination before reopening borders. At this point it seems unlikely that either country will open in 2021.
As of April 19, Australia and New Zealand are finally launching a travel bubble, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two countries. While we’ve heard this concept thrown around many times before, this is the closest this has been to becoming a reality.
Of course this might not launch if we see a significant number of cases in either country, and for that matter the travel bubble could be suspended at any time.
Any OMAAT readers in Australia or New Zealand looking forward to taking advantage of this travel bubble?