I’m Skeptical: Australia & New Zealand Travel Bubble

Filed Under: Travel

We’ve seen many places that largely have coronavirus under control consider the concept of travel bubbles. Australia and New Zealand have done among the best jobs of keeping coronavirus under control, so could we finally see a travel bubble between the two countries?

Australia & New Zealand travel bubble: coming early 2021?

Australia and New Zealand have taken an incredibly aggressive approach towards border closures, in an effort to eradicate coronavirus. For the most part the borders of the two countries have been closed to foreigners, and those who are allowed to enter have to go into a 14-day quarantine in a monitored facility.

For months the two countries have thrown around the concept of a travel bubble, which would allow travel between the two countries without quarantine or testing. Well, it looks like that concept is now closer to becoming a reality, as New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced her general support for the concept this week.

The plan as of now is as follows:

  • This could happen sometime in the first quarter of 2021
  • New Zealand would only be onboard with this if there were 28 consecutive days without community transmission across Australia
  • Airports would need to figure out a way to fully separate passengers traveling as part of these bubbles from other international travelers, in order to avoid any risk there

Since October it has been possible for those from New Zealand to travel to certain parts of Australia without quarantine at the destination. However, that hasn’t been reciprocated, and upon returning to New Zealand, travelers have needed to quarantine.

In other words, virtually no one has been using this one-way travel bubble, given the quarantine requirement.

Could we soon see an Australia & New Zealand travel bubble?

Why I’m skeptical of this travel bubble

Life in Australia and New Zealand is more or less back to normal, assuming you stay within borders. There has certainly been some controversy around the approaches that these countries have taken, with some equating them to police states, and other commending them for the great job they’ve done.

Personally I think they’ve done an amazing job, and besides, I think us Americans don’t really have much room to criticize how other countries have handled coronavirus.

That being said, I’m skeptical of this travel bubble ever happening, simply because how high of a standard these countries have set:

  • This concept has been discussed for months, hasn’t become a reality yet, and there’s still no actual date for this starting
  • This is reliant on 28 days without community transmission in Australia; that’s required to get this travel bubble off the ground, and presumably it could also be terminated if there were even a single case of community transmission
  • New South Wales has seen three new untraced cases today; one was from an airport van driver who was shuttling a crew between the airport and their hotel
  • Hong Kong and Singapore were recently supposed to launch a travel bubble, and that “popped” a day before it was due to launch, because of the “high” number of cases in Hong Kong (we’re talking five daily untraced cases)
  • At this point we’re right on the cusp(ish) of a widespread vaccine, so hopefully at some point in 2021 we’ll see borders in Australia and New Zealand open up on a more widespread basis

I certainly could be wrong, but when you’re like Australia and New Zealand and you’ll accept nothing but perfection, it just seems like there are more things that can go wrong than right here.

Again, that’s not at all a criticism of the approach these countries have taken, but rather my perception of the likelihood of what they’re aiming for.

This bubble relies on no community transmission

Bottom line

Australia and New Zealand have done a phenomenal job managing coronavirus, and they should be commended for that. There’s now agreement in principle on a travel bubble between the two countries launching in early 2021.

Personally I’m not convinced this will actually happen, simply because it has already been discussed for months, and it’s reliant on both Australia and New Zealand continuing to achieve (near) perfection. That’s a very high standard to uphold.

Do you think an Australia and New Zealand travel bubble will actually happen in the first quarter of 2021?

  1. You had great vacations throughout summer 2020 to Turkey and Germany etc

    How would you have felt if you were required to stay within the borders of Florida for the past 9 months, 5 of which were extremely strict 5km one hour outside only actually fully enforced quarantine, along with absolutely no hope of being allowed to leave Florida’s borders without onerous govt approvals for next year, meaning you can’t see your parents for the past one year? Would you feel differently if along with these mentally traumatic restrictions your income was basically zero and all the govt did was give you $2000-3000 a month to live on (money you routinely drop to buy miles without a second thought), while you knew several fellow floridian immigrant friends who’s visas were cancelled and lives upended?

    Australia’s response sounds fantastic only to those who are privileged without immigration issues or without binational families and mentally strong.

  2. “At this point we’re right on the cusp(ish) of a widespread vaccine”

    Only in richer countries. Within WHO, vaccine experts are speculating it will be 2024 before the poorest countries have widespread vaccination. This is partly because richer countries have grabbed most of the vaccines (Canada now has enough vaccine on order to treat each Canadian 5 times), partly because the first vaccine has such rigorous handling requirements, and partly because mad anti-vaxxers are spreading fake news to discourage take-up (this latter problem affects all of us).

    There’s a long road still ahead.

  3. @ Greg — I agree with most of your points and find them to be valid. To be clear, I don’t think there’s a perfect strategy, and if there were, hopefully more countries would have adapted it.

    But I’ve always believed that it’s easy to criticize aspects of the approaches that countries take, because every plan has flaws.

    Out of curiosity, what countries do you think have done a perfect job handling coronavirus?

  4. @ The nice Paul — You’re absolutely right, and to be clear, that statement was in the context of travel to and from Australia and New Zealand. When you look at the biggest markets for the two national airlines, it’s the US, followed by the UK, and countries in Asia that largely will be getting the vaccine soon.

  5. @Greg, as an Australian, I absolutely agree with you. I feel like I’ve been in prison the last 9 months, and certainly know of several families (I’m talking about among spouses and parents/young children – not just grandparents and adult children) that have been separated. Not to mention life is on hold for those with an “international life” of various descriptions.

    Just a little correction though, the 5km rule only applied to Melbourne at that time. And at this moment life is pretty normal within the borders (sporting events, theatres, shops, hotels, and restaurants). Plus we have no mask requirement, including on domestic flights.
    But still, can’t wait to be released again.

  6. Actually a large number of kiwis have come to Australia. It was controversial as they would fly into NSW and then catch domestic flights to other states. There have been no cases from this. Sydney has had random cases appear all along. They have dealt with it really well.
    I am currently at night 7 at the park Hyatt in Sydney. The rocks which I always thought was for tourists was packed on the weekend, as was the theatre, the museum and the restaurants I went to. Life is almost normal.
    Honestly as someone who was negotiating a move back to Asia when this happened, I am glad it fell apart and that I am here.
    January am doing a quick weekend in Noosa (awesome points flight). April off to Ningaloo reef to stay at Sal Salis (if it’s good enough for Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon it must ok). Trying to find some time to get to Lord How Island.
    Btw I’m from Melbourne and lived through 112 days of lockdown.
    As for the vaccine and the comment about richer countries, Australia has ordered enough to vaccinate pacific island nations such as Fiji that can’t afford it.

  7. I would guess most people in this forum would like to travel again, so hence wouldn’t like the rules in Oz. Is that the general consensus in Australia though? I saw a survey result stating 80% in Germany wish the rules were stricter. Germany doesn’t have a border that can be closed easily like Australia’s though. The U.K. could but then there’s much good to say about how they’ve been handling things.

  8. @Stuart
    The 80% is totally wrong, even state-owned propaganda media in Germany is only brave enough to call for 40% which are fine with the restrictions and 30% who want even more restrictions.

    And if you look at compliance you will see that 95%+ are ignoring most of the existing rules already.

    Infact it was stupid to tighten the rules in Germany. Instead of meeting at restaurants with lots of distance and hygiene measures people are now meeting privately which causes more infections.

  9. @stuart I would absolutely love to travel again as would most Australians. However there are a number of Australian who would like our borders locked further – so don’t want Australian’s who have been living outside of Australia to return – as quite often you see new cases from returned travellers. I believe they have a right to come home and as a former expat understand why this has happened.
    I am supposed to be in Antarctica right now and Galapagos next month, then Calala Island and finally skiing in the US. Instead I am home. I am a firm believer in life happens, just get on with it. So I am taking the opportunity to go to bucket list places in Australia (no Noosa is not one of those). So as I mentioned above off to Ningaloo reef, trying to fit in the Kimberleys and also heading up to the northern most point of the mainland. I think I might even take the ferry to Tasmania as I see it leave every night (5 min walk).
    What I find difficult to deal with is watching people in the US etc going on holidays – cases are out of control, hospitals seem overloaded and yet people continue to travel. Meanwhile we are stuck in Australia. I don’t actually know the answer as to who is right and wrong, but it is frustrating, and yes I am jealous.
    The vaccine for most Australians is still a long way off – so we shall see what happens.

  10. I’m Aussie living In London. I can’t go home to see my Mum as it’s cost and tome prohibitive. a$3700 for 2 weeks hotel quarantine. Plus insane ticket prices and 6 month wait lists even for citizens

    To be honest I’m glad I’m
    Not I’m Australia. It sounds like a prison.

    I think their expectations are not realistic. It seems the aussie media has whipped the whole country into a #teamzero mentality where only zero is good enough. When there is one case – it’s breaking news ok the 4pm news and the flash on the screen the location and map and details of where that person has been the last 7 days

    It’s gonna be a long 2021 for Australia. They’ll get within an earshot of zero only to get one case and then freak out reset to zero and a collective feeling of national disappointment

    It’s also summer there and they freak about 1 case. Will
    Be winter In 6 months and I don’t think the vaccine will be widespread then…

  11. Guys: It’s High Past Time to stop giving so much attention to Australia and New Zealand.
    Far more interesting destinations to talk/speculate about

    Let’s be Real!
    We recently conducted a survey among our mailing list (around 900K frequent flyers). We basically asked them to rank the countries they’d like to visit again when the sanitary conditions improve. Around 600K took the survey

    Guess What: only 2.25 percent mentioned New Zealand and 0.58 % for Australia. LOL

  12. Community transmission appears to have occurred in Sydney yesterday so that puts back any bubble with NZ.

    Other than that life is pretty normal, the only change to normal behaviour is having to shout at dipshits who won’t wear masks where they should be. We have a whole continent to explore so it’s hardly a prison.

    Much less a prison than my brother and his wife, they haven’t been beyond their front gate in the UK since February, she has an auto-immune condition so cannot risk interacting with other people. Much less a prison than the rest of my family in London bouncing in and out of lockdown. Much less a prison than my friends in the US who avoid interacting with the world as much as possible because they live under a government that has abrogated all responsibility for dealing with the pandemic.

    Close to zero cases is a great place to be., and when we do get small outbreaks people seem to be pretty responsible, they check the contact lists, get tested, stay home and then get on with their lives.

  13. @ Lucky – I do think that the Australian public health success has to be viewed in tandem with the decision to limit the number of Australians returning home from other countries. For six months now, just a few thousand people are allowed to return every week to a country the size of the USA.

    This is a serious humanitarian crisis, and it’s hard to justify when the country is recording almost 0 cases for weeks on end. Tens of thousands Australian citizens and residents are stuck abroad – many unemployed or broke, pregnant or elderly, and without assistance. Many have had their visas cancelled in the country in which they wait, with futility, as planeloads of empty seats depart.

    If they were waiting at a land border, it’d look like a refugee camp in Central America.

    Every other country in the region built up successful quarantine infrastructures over the past many months. Australia did not. It was a choice, and it is disgraceful. And is Australia doing better than Taiwan (same population, also an island) as a result? No.

    So, Lucky, please remember that the successful public health response has come at a bigger price than people not being able to travel to Bali for their holidays. That response will forever be stained with the Australian Government’s egregious and unnecessary violation of international law – law that enshrines the right of repatriation for citizens.

    History will not be kind.

  14. I too can not see any bubble between any country working as it only takes one prick and the bubble is gone.

  15. @max check out the hessenschau article “Mehrheit befürwortet neue Corona-Regeln”. It’s just one survey I know but I saw some others also supporting this point that most people in Germany are for these stricter rules, especially now icus are filling up.

    @mda – not being allowed back to your own country I also think is too much. For sure I understand the frustration. I would say a compromise should be for those that travel, quarantine on return.

  16. As someone in Australia there has been a very myopic focus on Covid numbers.

    This has come at the expense of human rights and civil liberties. A lot of the population have been brainwashed into believing that the only health and economic outcome that matters are Covid numbers.

    Mental health problems are terrible particularly for those with families split across states or countries. A lot of business have gone broke. Australians cannot leave or return the country freely without government permission (as per North Korea). Returning travelers are forced into 14 day imprisonment with no fresh air, no exercise and insufficient food at their own expense.

    However the “strong borders” approach plays well to an electorate that is insular and racist.

    Cannot wait to escape this insular hermit kingdom once were allowed to leave!

  17. While the NZ government is as paranoid as some states here in Australia such QLD and WA I don’t like the chances of a bubble working. I’m in QLD and after the reaction to the recent Adelaide situation with quick border closure I’m not confident booking any interstate travel.

    I’m wondering if there’s a case for free passport extensions given its basically useless at present.

  18. As an Australian living and working in the US, I’m thrilled with the approach the Australian government has taken. I have parents and grandparents who are literally in one of the safest places on earth in relation to this virus. I don’t know of anyone in Australia in my network who had the virus or was impacted permanently as a result.

    As someone in an HR role in the US, I know far too many stories of death and life impacting events (including losing babies and close family members) and this includes in my friend circle where one of my closest friends lost his father at 52 years of age. These families will never be the same again.

    Ultimately, Australia and New Zealand used their island nation status to their advantage and valued continued life over short term sanctions and they ought to be applauded. My friends are now happily going to bars and spending Christmas together without masks and fear.

    I’m disgusted at the US response and the lack of care about their fellow man. The ultimate cost of the US self serving individualism is literally the death of your neighbour and frankly, that is not acceptable to me. It’s a huge weakness in US values and methodology.

    Also, I say this as someone who has not been able to see my (healthy) family for well over a year and a half with no real timeline in sight – the longest in my life and that has been an incredible personal struggle for me.

  19. Ben, a sample country who’ve done well with covid is Afghanistan No real restrictions and less deaths

    Turns out having a young non fat population works wonders

  20. I could say that at some point we have to learn to live with this virus and not kill our economies. FACT: If you are under age 70 and in good health you have over a 99.7% chance of not dying. More than likely you will have no to modest to maybe moderate effects.

    Do we close down borders because vulnerable people die each year of flus and colds? No.

    Maybe this vaccine might be the cure but I doubt it. Typically an effective vaccine takes 4-6 years to come safely to market. This took 6 months.

    Now I’m sure I’ll get all kinds of negative responses here by the facts are the facts. If you under age 70 and in good health and decide to travel you’re more than likely to die of an automobile accident on your way to and from the airport.

  21. I can give another data point from Australia, specifically Melbourne where we had the longest and strictest lockdown in Australia. It’s like whiplash of emotions.

    Our lockdown in Melbourne was brutal and felt disproportionate. It seemed a fool’s errand trying to reach impossible elimination and even worse seeing other countries learning to “live” with Covid while we just put our heads in the sand. Now of course, it’s not going great in most of those countries and hey, I’ll eat my words: we did (for now) eliminate Covid.

    It’s great to see Australia open up and virtually Covid-free. On the other hand, even a SINGLE case in one state makes people panic hysterically and states are constantly closing borders to each other (if that doesn’t happen today because of the 3 new cases you mentioned, it will be a BIG change from the usual snap-shut-and-lock-them-out approach we’ve seen all year). It’s hard to enjoy and plan to use all our relative “freedoms” when you can’t trust that even domestic borders will stay open.

    Then there’s the tens of thousands of Australians stuck overseas that can’t get home. Thousands more who hold visas but still aren’t allowed back in. And even more in Australia (like me) who have the opposite problem: we aren’t allowed to leave Australia to see family overseas. You’re locked in – or out. The collective response from both government and most Australians is that while that’s “very sad” what those people are all facing, oh well, too bad, because this is what we have to do. In other words: the current status quo is “good enough” for most Australians and they don’t care about the truly horrible impacts on others.

    Covid has brought out plenty of good but also bad in Australia. We don’t feel like a country: it’s very much every state for itself and fighting against each other, coupled with an understandable desire to “eliminate” Covid while having no proportionate reaction or plan of how to sustain this. Still, the approach dismisses so much real suffering as acceptable collateral damage and, as if often the case, disproportionately affects those already most vulnerable. The irony of elimination is that even a vaccine is likely to result in having to manage and deal with at least some cases which is far more than we’re willing to tolerate now. So then what?

    So: things look very nice in Australia right now, but it’s very fragile and has come at a heavy price, and we have a long road ahead.

    I agree that I doubt the NZ travel bubble is anywhere along the way ahead any time soon.

  22. @tim it’s interesting that you believe Australia to be the prison. In Sydney we’ve basically had very few restrictions because of the limited restrictions we took so early. Short term pain, long term gain. Whereas London, where you are now, has more restrictions than we do here in Sydney. Some personal short term sacrifice for the greater good of most people seems like a pretty good idea to me. Much better than the insane per capita death rate that the UK has had.

  23. @ Colin – but you suggest that in London that there was no personal sacrifice for the first three months of this horror show. That’s simply not true. Many, many places (such as Melbourne) have sacrificed much more for much longer than anyone in Sydney. London’s current predicament, unfortunately, is not the exception right now; Sydney is. You’re very lucky. But don’t suggest that the rest of us, from New York, to Delhi, to Copenhagen, to Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Santiago were just too lazy or selfish to stay at home.

    @ Chris – excellent summary of the reality. Can someone in Australia publish it?

  24. Is the plan for NZ and AUS to try and remain covid zero forever? Or is it only until those who are most vulnerable to the disease are vaccinated? It’s going to be really interesting to see how APAC handles travel this year. There will not be universal vaccination and we will not eliminate the virus in the rest of the world. So – what’s the plan? I’m genuinely starting to think these restrictions will never end.

  25. I am also sceptical this travel bubble will eventuate, with Qantas boss Alan Joyce recently saying it was possible there would be a widespread vaccine roll-out before travel bubbles went into effect. But as an overseas-born Australian with all of my family overseas, I still back the government’s strict policies. It is worth it to be able to live a normal life here versus the closures and fear of going out in other places around the world. The government has also been upfront and has long said international travel was unlikely until the second half of 2021. Of course there are awful tradeoffs and I missed by sister’s wedding and I know others that have missed funerals and other important family events, but I did the best I could participating via Zoom and I am happy to feel safe.

  26. @John No, that was not my suggestion. In fact, perhaps you have made my point for me. Tim claimed Australia was a prison. Implying that London was not. Yet, Sydney (and Melbourne) has far fewer restrictions now than London. Noting the limitations on international travel which is objectively, for the significant majority, no great hardship, it is difficult to understand the logic behind Tim’s assertion that Australia is a prison when we have objectively less restrictions than the UK right now. Therefore, what I’m suggesting is that Tim’s assertion is not based on facts or reality. Restrictions work and are clearly necessary to combat increases in infection rates. And I would much rather sort term restrictions to longer term restrictions which appear to be the case in many other countries.

    I do believe however that as a country with significant wealth, there is no doubt the government could expand the hotel quarantine program if it wanted to. Clearly the measures in the UK have not been terribly effective.

    We are definitely lucky here in Australia, but I don’t agree that we have arrived at where we are now because of good luck alone. What our collective state and federal governments have done, coupled with the actions of the majority of people, have clearly worked better than most other countries. The civil liberties argument that many put forward is clearly a nice way of saying my rights are more important than anyone else.

  27. @Colin, yes it is a prison. Sure you might be “allowed” to have a BBQ and go to the shop, but for people like me that have an international life, it’s torture. I’m also in Western Australia where up until recently, we weren’t even allowed to travel to other parts of Australia (surely against federal laws).

    The worst part is that, as someone said earlier, one case is enough to send the politicians and the general public into a meltdown. It was supposed to only be suppressed, but the way the mentality is right now, Australians won’t be able to travel for decades because the precedent has been set. Luckily my wife and daughter and I all have foreign passports as well as Australian, and we are already planning on leaving. Don’t want to live somewhere akin to North Korea. We simply don’t agree with the principle that has been set.

  28. Your reason in that because it has been discussed for too long does make sense and equally your reason between these two places does make sense. Perhaps it is too big. I mean perhaps the places are too big to have a travel bubble. May be they should consider matching specific cities. We saw a brief travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore. Then this was dropped when Hong Kong started to get more infections again, but the point is that it is easier to manage if you consider matching specific cities or smaller places.

  29. So many incorrect/ill-researched/arm chair expert statements in the story and other comments.

    “Airports would need to figure out a way to fully separate passengers traveling as part of these bubbles from other international travelers, in order to avoid any risk there”

    Airports in Australia and New Zealand have already done this (some have been doing it for months). Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane already have passengers flying through and have processes in place to avoid them from mixing.

    Auckland – Auckland holds transit passengers in a separate section therefore the departures area is considered clean. Arriving passengers are processed through different parts of the terminal.
    Sydney – Sydney holds transit passengers in a separate section therefore the departures area is considered clean. Arriving passengers from quarantine free destinations like Norfolk Island and Auckland are disembarked through 50-63 gates and procssed through arrivals hall B. Everyone else arrives through arrival hall A.
    Melbourne – Again transit passengers can’t access the departures area. Arrivals has been split into two with a large plexiglass barrier dividing all the passageways, passport control, and baggage claim area.
    Brisbane – Again transit passengers can’t access the departures area. If a clean flight such as Norfolk Island or Auckland arrives at the same time as a non-clean flight well then the clean flight takes priority and others are held back and must wait to be cleared. Given flights from non-clean destiantions have 30-40 people at most then the number of people inconvenienced is quite small plus these flights tend to arrive at different times.
    Perth – Has flights to/from Christmas and Cocos Islands that leave/arrive from the international terminal. As these flights leave/arrive at different times to other international flights there is no risk of passengers mixing.

    “In other words, virtually no one has been using this one-way travel bubble, given the quarantine requirement.”

    Surprisingly most flights are going out at about 50-75% full. With 10 quarantine free flights per week from Auckland to Sydney and 5 flights per week from Auckland to Melbourne, this isn’t an insignificant amount. It’s also evident that people aren’t that stressed about the quarantine requirement, New Zealand has a capacity of 4500 people with about 40-50% of that capacity currently taken up by people flying from Australia to New Zealand.

    These numbers are all much more than the proposed Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble that would have just been one flight per day.

  30. @ Lucky, Greg was very correct. The very worst offender in Australia was Chairman Dan in the state of Victoria. Victorians suffered greatly and much more disproportionately than other states.

  31. Great post Chris.

    EC2, Dan’s response was needed for a situation that went out of control, and was heading like the UK and the US. He got it under control and aligned with the rest of Australia. So it was painful, but it was necessary.

    Politically the worst offender was Anastasia in QLD. Just used it for political purposes to close borders “to protect Queenslanders” – as evidenced with 5 cases in NSW the past 24 hours yet still hasn’t said Boo.

  32. You’re right to be skeptical, Lucky. The parochial fault lines in our creaky Federation were exposed by state governments’ response to covid, as opposed to covid itself. Nobody but the P.M. talked about ‘Australia’ as a nation. It was every petty-minded state premier for themselves! It’s quite normal to see a healthy rivalry in sporting contests between states in better days, but to see Australians turn on each other based on their home state was shocking in the extreme for this Australian. Suddenly we were Queenslanders or Victorians first and foremost! And our seemingly nice neighbour across the Tasman Sea has shown herself to be no less parochial than us in her policy positions. Do not expect a travel bubble anytime soon with these parochial mindsets in place on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

  33. Oh Yes, please help us, get us out of this hell hole where we are not wearing masks, can attend sporting events, can travel anywhere in the country, hardly have to social distance anymore, can dine in anywhere, can go to clubs, can drink in bars and have parties.
    Enjoy that freedom USA people 😉

  34. As a West Australian in Perth all I can say is that I can’t imagine life any other way right now. We don’t need to wear masks at all. All events including music concerts with no social distancing are all back on. Pubs, clubs, restaurants, offices, schools, universities etc are all open and have been for 6+ months. We have a booming economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere in the world. Not to mention we are a state of 2.7 million people and have had 9 deaths since cover-19 was first discovered. And this won’t be forever all we are doing is waiting for a widespread vaccine then we can travel.

    @Greg – grow up mate would you rather not see your family in person for a year or two or see them die.

    @KW – Is this “insular hermit kingdom” the same one where almost no one has died, has low unemployment rates, booming economies and where we can actually do things with other people face to face and actually have a life. Yeah that sounds horrible.

  35. Each state in Australia uses a system to deal with the pandemic a little bit differently. Australia is a federation of states and territories and each has control of their health response. New Zealand has its own ways of dealing with things. It will never be a perfect fit, and we don’t expect that.

    There have been outbreaks in both countries and closedowns. There is no reason to believe that would be eliminated as there is always international interface at our shipping ports and airports. However both countries have become more adept at dealing with crises as they arise, so that further mitigates a strong suppression strategy.
    So, sure a travel bubble might not work like clockwork, but let’s give it a go.
    The chief of police in our state mentioned that this level of restrictions is the way it will be for the foreseeable future. Australia and New Zealand both have a wait and see policy on vaccinations, so that won’t happen until next year. And then we have to wait see how many get vaccinated and if that only stops symptoms or also stops infection. That will take a while and we don’t have an answer yet. A range of vaccines will be used and we need to see how effective they are in real life.
    Quarantine and contact tracing have worked for Australia and New Zealand in the past and are used successfully again to prevent spread of infection.
    Other countries use different strategies. It is what it is.

    The effort here has been to protect the “team” (that’s us), rather than protect individual rights to travel to far distant lands of enchantment and wonder. More troubling is that we’re finding enchantment and wonder in our own countries, and perhaps losing wanderlust.
    Unfortunately travel outside of our 2 nations will be really difficult for the foreseeable future.
    One gentleman has mentioned that Australia gets far too much airplay in this forum. Given that you all overseas probably can’t come here, nor to New Zealand it is probably fitting you allow us to go back to sleep again on our Summer beaches and eat our cherries and apricots. And you concentrate on places where you can travel, such as they are.

    My partner and I would love to visit Paris, New York and London, but we can’t because, not so much because Australia borders are shut, but we have silly memories of how things used to be, and things aren’t like that any more. And that’s that.

  36. Australia’s approach has overwhelming community support – which is probably why the strategy has been effective. Even in Victoria, where the lockdown has been epic – there was majority community support for Premier Dan Andrews stance.

    The mental health issues are real. Initially it was thought they may be pent-up from the first lockdown, where there was a massive decrease in emergency mental health presentations. Time has shown that this was an anomaly and it looks like the rate of presentations is up by about 30%. However – there has also been an increase in presentations where countries have been much less successful in their suppression of the virus (not elimination, which is New Zealand’s policy.

    Lockdown’s and isolation contribute, but it looks like the fear of the virus is also responsible for exacerbating existing mental health conditions, as well as precipitating others. Mental health professionals I know that in the youth and adolescent area in Australia, admissions have increased, and are for longer (say 7 days instead of a night or two), but that the respite has a much higher success rate than normal.

    Time may change these indications, but that is the picture now.

    On the economic front – it is looking like Australia, and some Asian economies who took similar approaches are rebounding well, because they focused on the virus suppression first, an the speed of economic recovery followed. At least that’s the current indication. Obviously the situation is dynamic.

    On the novelty of this situation – its not novel. We have been through similar for centuries. The very term ‘quarantine’ comes from the 40 days isolation demanded of ships arriving at Venice in the 14th century. The closing of restaurants, gathering places, closing of schools, curfews, theatres, sports venues, the marking of infected houses, the removal of diseased people to ‘qurantine’ hospitals all happend as recently as the Spanish Flu epidemic in the early 20th Century.

    Very few miss travel as much as me I have cancelled 4 international travel trips in the last 9 months. But if it means I can’t travel for a year or so, to prevent the suffering and potential death of others – I’m in.

    On repatriating Australians – more difficult. Initially I had little sympathy, as I felt it was those who didn’t heed the call of our leaders to return home in March. I have since modified my view as I have heard more complex stories, and I think more should have, and should still be done for our Expatriates.

    On the question of cost – in a post pandemic world of airlines going broke, it is unreasonable to expect travel to be bargain priced like it was pre-pandemic. And the world, let alone the Australian government, I don’t think is responsible for bailing out travellers. They do with all kinds of interest free loans, I know. While I sympathise with the stranded, sometimes, you are on your own, or in the hands of family and friends, and the government – unless you are prepared to pay a lot more taxation than you do – is not.

    If you read this far. You should get a prize.

  37. @MDA – “What I find difficult to deal with is watching people in the US etc going on holidays – cases are out of control, hospitals seem overloaded and yet people continue to travel.”

    I agree with you, and I’m in the USA.

  38. @ Shaun

    Like it or not, most of the responsibility to control COVID falls on the states, not the federal government. This simply reflects where the legal powers are allocated pursuant to the respective health acts in each state. Each state government inevitably has a responsibility to itself first and foremost. The federal government has done an appalling job at bringing the players together. It has belligerently played politics against states with non politically aligned governments. It irresponsibly spread false information about individual cases related to the QLD borders, which were already shown to be untrue and not wanted by the individuals concerned. It has failed to champion national systems of best practice. It has failed to set up a secure national system for returning travellers. Ana has visited our community several times in the last 6 months and had private discussions with our local tourism bigwigs, including low key meetings in our local restaurant.


    Utter garbage. Ana did what needed what needed to be done when the LNP opposition leader, would have opened up the borders and messed up all of the hard work. The people of QLD reaffirmed their support of that position with a swing to the Labor Part in the recent state election. The PM was spouting all sorts of trash about QLD. If NSW can’t get the current outbreak under control all other states will urgently act, both Lib and Labor. Gladys (who started strongly) turned out to be just another porkbarrel premier with her corrupt lover boy and is almost out of time – shredding documents catches up with you in the end. So far she got lucky with the community transmission cases over the last couple of months. Just remember the record of the QLD LNP – you’ve got George Christensen spouting anti science nonsense, you’ve got the idiotic John-Paul Langbroek in virus denial and on the national level Liberal trash like Senator Sarah henderson encouraging folk to sue the Chief Medical Officer of Victoria. If Mad Monk Tony Abbott had still been PM, per his speech in the UK, he’d have simply done nothing and let the virus vulnerable die like that big fat loser in the US.


    The Victorian Government achieved a near miraculous result in controlling the second wave. This is clearly understood and respected by most Victorians with the Premier’s approval rating has surged to 71% as of mid November

    @# Dennis Rettke

    No it is not against any state law or against the Constitution to restrict movement in a time of a health crisis. That was tested in the High Court in November.

    @ Frrd

    No, at this point we can’t say there have been 1,000s extra suicides – there has been no spike in suicides per the actual data – paper just published (16 November) in the Lancet Psychiatry – 14.85 per 100,000 before and 14.07 per 100,000 after, in other words no statistical difference. Similarly, data from NSW and VIC reported in There Guardian on 9 November.

    We have the evidence that lockdowns do work: Australia, NZ. Sweden has 20 times the death rate. It’s called data. It’s freely available to you online if you decide to go look for it before making uninformed commentary.

    @ Colin

    Thanks goodness somebody has some critical faculties around here.

    @ George M Romney

    Yep – facts help. If you get them right. Some 21% US fatalities for folk under 65 years old (CDC data article published ABC News (US) on 19 November). Some one percent under 34 years. Those figures are worse in some other countries – 30% COVID deaths in Colombia are in the under 60s (OCHA ReliefWeb published 15 December)

    @ Stuart

    Where we have had state elections the incumbent governments have been soundly endorsed by voters suggesting high support for strict approach to COVID. The Premier of the state with the most strict lockdowns, Victoria, has huge approval rating.

    People are certainly “allowed” into their country if they are a citizen or permanent resident or NZA citizen who normally resides in Australia. They have to quarantine for the sake of protecting the health of the community. The limitation comes from the number of people allowed to enter the country each day and thereby the fights and the increased costs. Arguably the federal government could do more to address this issue by setting up better facilities and a more secure system than the current hotel based system.

    It may seem strange to folk in the USA, but all of us in Australia are getting on with our lives with COVID virtually eliminated across the nation and across all states. It’s called lockdown, a sense of community responsibility and having some brave political leaders from both sides of the political spectrum.

  39. Yes, it’s a one way street: Kiwis coming to Australia, not vv. They don’t have to worry about quarantine on return, as the strong likelihood is they’re not going back ( more than 10% of the NZ population lives in Australia). Why anyone would leave the sanity of Ardern’s NZ for the nightmare of Morrison ( aka Scotty from Marketing) et al…simply defies belief.
    As for the elimination strategy? It was that in NZ but not in Australia. The success is in part the fact that the vast majority of people signed on for the painful but necessary constraints….and partly the ‘luck’ of geography, ie the relative ease of border closures in island nations.
    The introduction of the 2 way bubble is likely to be concurrent with the vaccination rollout ( ie Q2, 2021)

  40. Well said platy, at the end of the day thousands of people around the world are dying unnecessary deaths because people won’t take basic precautions like staying home, wearing a mask, distancing etc. I’m Australia and new Zealand people are not dying from Coronavirus. It’s really that simple.

    Moderators, you really need to take down or put a heavy warning on the @frrd post above. It’s is dangerously misinformed and spreading falsehoods.

    As the Australian institute of health and welfare says


    “ There is thus far no clear evidence of an increase in suicide, self-harm, suicidal behaviour, or suicidal thoughts associated with the pandemic. However, suicide data are challenging to collect in real time and economic effects are evolving. Our LSR will provide a regular synthesis of the most up-to-date research evidence to guide public health and clinical policy to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on suicide.”

  41. @Greg completely agree, I’m sick of being stuck on prison island, unable to visit family overseas or indeed do much of anything.

  42. Your skepticism was right Lucky.

    Once again the Divided States of Koalastan has shut itself off from each other again ruining Christmas for thousands and inflicting mental health pain because of ten cases a day.

  43. Lucky,
    You have posted a few editorial articles mentioning Australia and its response to the Covid19 pandemic. It is unfortunate that the replies often lose civility and use angry name calling tactics.
    Australia, as with a number of other well documented nations won’t be participating in international travel for quite some time. It is what it is. One member mentions Koalastan. Why the namecalling?

    The world is a good place. We want what’s best in difficult times.
    If the forum becomes all about creative name calling and loses its civility, you lose readership. You lose what you worked to build up. I’m here because I enjoy travel, not abusive language.

  44. @ KW

    That exponential curve that doubles every 3 to 4 days if the infection rates are left unfettered is blatantly inconvenient to denialists and covidiots. Simple concepts really – like the actions taken today are only reflected in the data in two weeks time. Fortunately, the vast majority of folk living in Oz and NZ place their sense of community above their petty self entitlement. Unlike certain other countries, like the USA, which accepts 300,000 plus deaths that are rising at an ever increasing rate – approx. 30 times the infection rate and 30 times the mortality rate per head of population in Australia and 100 times the infection rate and 200 times the mortality rate in NZ.

    So most of us are more than happy to be cut off from the Selfish States of Mar-a-lago-stan where some folk seem to believe that they have a constitutional right to infect others whilst celebrating a Christmas that will lead to 3,000 plus deaths per day and force the brave folk who work in the health system to put their own health and lives any risk.

    @ QFFlyer

    According to a recent review in Very Well Family, a suitable dummy for older babies is a Nanobebe Pacifier 3+ Month Pacifier. They are free from harmful chemicals and available through Amazon. They are 100% silicon, PBA free and come in different trim colours. Enjoy.

  45. @Greg “Ben, a sample country who’ve done well with covid is Afghanistan No real restrictions and less deaths

    Turns out having a young non fat population works wonders”

    If we could all only be as lucky as the uniformly young and thin residents of beautiful Afghanistan, enjoying total freedom in a prosperous and stable society with high living standards and a bright future ahead of it.

    @Dennis “@Colin, yes it is a prison. Sure you might be “allowed” to have a BBQ and go to the shop, but for people like me that have an international life, it’s torture.”

    When I read about the Central American children separated from their parents at the US border, I was horrified. When I read that Muslims picked up 19 years ago (in the beautiful paradise of Afghanistan no less!) were tortured and yet found not guilty of any crime and later were cleared for release but are still languishing in Guantanamo, I was ashamed. When I read about George Floyd and other unarmed black people being summarily executed by police for no reason whatsoever or for infractions that warrant a fine at most while actual armed white people like Kyle Rittenhouse can just kill people and be praised by the police for it, I was infuriated. When I read about journalists being hacked up by bone saws in the Middle East, I was disgusted.

    But then I read your heartbreaking tale of being condemned to a life of shopping and eating in PERTH(!) for up to 9 months and counting(!)… well sir, I’m sending the best American-made thoughts and prayers that your tormentors will be brought to justice, if not here on earth then before the Big Guy in the Sky. Sure, travel restrictions to curb covid’s spread may have saved the lives of countless millions worldwide… but as Jesus himself taught, the true measure of a man’s righteousness is how many *international* lives he saves.

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