New Zealand Cancels Australia Travel Bubble

New Zealand Cancels Australia Travel Bubble

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In mid-April we saw a travel bubble launch between Australia and New Zealand, allowing quarantine-free travel between the two countries. Both countries have been pursuing a zero-tolerance strategy towards coronavirus, so with cases under control in both countries and borders otherwise closed, it was easy enough to establish a travel bubble. Up until now over 200,000 people have traveled as part of this arrangement.

Well, unfortunately that’s coming to an end, at least for the next couple of months.

Why the Australia & New Zealand travel bubble is ending

New Zealand has abruptly ended the travel bubble between the two countries, following a surge in coronavirus cases in Australia. Australia is currently experiencing a “national emergency,” as coronavirus cases are “surging” due to the delta variant. On Friday New South Wales saw its biggest daily rise in new cases of the year, with 136 cases reported today alone.

For the time being the travel bubble is being suspended for at least eight weeks, though it’s no guarantee it will reopen then — rather it will just be reviewed at that point.

This announcement was made by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was going off recommendations from the country’s Ministry of Health.

The bubble has been suspended as of 11:59PM on Friday, July 23, 2021. Since many people from New Zealand are currently in Australia, over the next week special flights will be operated by Air New Zealand to get people back home. In order to take these flights, customers will need a negative coronavirus test. On top of that, depending on where they’re coming from, passengers will either have to get tested or quarantine on arrival.

Air New Zealand will be operating flights to return people to New Zealand

I’m curious if Australia can contain this outbreak

Australia’s approach towards managing coronavirus has been controversial, as the country has been slow with vaccination all while taking a zero-COVID approach. At this point it’s looking like Australia’s borders won’t reopen on a widespread basis until later in 2022 at the earliest, and even then there will likely still be restrictions.

What we’re seeing right now isn’t Australia’s biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic, at least not yet. We saw bigger outbreaks last March and last August, and in both cases the country managed to get them under control.

With the delta variant spreading more easily, I can’t help but wonder if Australia can get back to having virtually no coronavirus. It’s easy enough to control cases when you have just a handful of them, and tracing is easy. But with the numbers we’re seeing, along with how easily the delta variant spreads, one can’t help but wonder if Australia’s approach will work here.

Can Australia contain this coronavirus outbreak?

Bottom line

About three months after launch the Australia and New Zealand travel bubble, the concept is now being suspended for a period of at least eight weeks. This comes as Australia is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, made worse by how contagious the delta variant is.

I really don’t think the concept of travel bubbles works very well. at least between regions taking a zero-COVID approach. This isn’t the only travel bubble that was ended after just a short while — the Hong Kong & Singapore travel bubble has also been suspended for an extended period.

Do you think we’ll see a return of the Australia & New Zealand travel bubble? And with the delta variant spreading, do you think Australia can get back to just a dozen cases per day?

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  1. Andy

    The two models (zero COVID, mainly in AUS/NZ vs. living with COVID, rest of the world) cannot reconcile.

    1. AA56

      My vote is for COVID free in Australia. All the moaners here just want a slice of our COVID free lifestyle.

    2. Robert Schrader

      Not really. I lived in Covid-free Taiwan for the first 7 months of the pandemic; it was like being trapped in a (very beautiful) prison.

      SARS-CoV-2 is ALREADY ENDEMIC within the human population. Unless Australia and New Zealand plan to stay cut off permanently, it's not a matter of if they abandon "elimination," but when and how. I hope Scotty and Cindy are smarter than they seem, and have started having these conversations at least within government.

    3. Mh

      No, the moaners here want to live with the rest of the world. And one day, it will happen. We can't live in isolation forever - but the sad part is how long we will have been kept behind everyone else's progress.

  2. Fed UP

    NZ and OZ are simply delaying the inevitable, unless they want to be cut off from the world forever. Little vaccinations and zero herd immunity will get them nowhere. They seem content to be cut off, and if they want "zero" COVID and draconian restrictions for their citizens to leave and enter the country, its their choice. PS-The variant was able to get into Austrialia, and guess what ? The Sydney variant, the Perth variant,...

    NZ and OZ are simply delaying the inevitable, unless they want to be cut off from the world forever. Little vaccinations and zero herd immunity will get them nowhere. They seem content to be cut off, and if they want "zero" COVID and draconian restrictions for their citizens to leave and enter the country, its their choice. PS-The variant was able to get into Austrialia, and guess what ? The Sydney variant, the Perth variant, the Darwin variant are there right now, viruses mutate, thats what they do.

    1. AA56

      There is no Perth variant. It's a very normal life here. No restrictions and a massive crowd at the footy yesterday. The only variants are the ones that have arrived from allowing outsiders into our Nation.

    2. Robert Schrader

      Again, life is not "normal" if you can't freely leave/come back to your state/country, "footy" be damned. I would say you were suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, were it not that Sweden has been the sanest country in the world during this mad period.

    3. AA56

      Join us in Perth and enjoy our COVID FREE lifestyle. We are blessed to live in Perth. Life is very normal other than being able to travel internationally. I can wait for that to return while I enjoy the footy with a cold beer!

    4. speedbird

      You guys are actual cultists

  3. AA56

    The outbreak is very minor not like the USA with another 400 deaths last night and well over 500,000 dead . In Perth life is very normal without any restrictions thanks to our State Leader. Nearly all Australians support the borders being closed and caps on the numbers returning. It was only 14 new cases last night in Victoria and 130 in NSW. As a Nation, we will crush the virus.

    1. Robert Schrader

      You temporarily held back the virus, that’s true. However, you did it at the expense of so much that makes modern life worth living, namely the freedom of movement. It’s a pity so many Aussies and Kiwis seem to derive more pleasure from policing others than from living life on their own terms.

    2. AA56

      It's a very minor outbreak. We will crush the virus.

    3. Robert Schrader

      You will crush the virus, and most of the rest of what makes life worth living.

    4. AA56

      Other not being able to travel internationally life is very normal here in Perth. Who needs to travel when we are COVID free. We will crush the virus!

  4. philelltt

    New Zealand has been quite clear about its eradication strategy during the pandemic. Viewed through that lens, it is acting in a predictable way by bunkering down. Their home, their rules. NZ doesn't care squat what Lucky thinks.

    Australia has had a range of state based responses varying from suppression to eradication. That's how things can happen in some Federal systems. Each state should have a voice and in Australia they do. Their home,...

    New Zealand has been quite clear about its eradication strategy during the pandemic. Viewed through that lens, it is acting in a predictable way by bunkering down. Their home, their rules. NZ doesn't care squat what Lucky thinks.

    Australia has had a range of state based responses varying from suppression to eradication. That's how things can happen in some Federal systems. Each state should have a voice and in Australia they do. Their home, their rules. The state/Federal dynamic can be messy but should be familiar to readers in USA.

    Lucky asks if Australia will contain the situation. Looking back at recent past relevant history, the answer is probably yes, but in a tribal way. There isn't the blue/red polemic of US politics. Other factors drive decisions in Australia.

    Did the bubble mean much in terms of world wide international travel? Evidently it meant a lot to Lucky as he's ruminated on this topic quite often. Good click bait to get advertising revenue.

    How about instead, Lucky, another Canadian border story or more credit card promos?

    1. Robert Schrader

      You’re just mad that you won’t be going anywhere exciting until mid-decade. Have fun in Rotorua while there rest of us are in Italy and Japan!

  5. Morgan

    With lockdowns in 3 major cities at the moment and this year every major city has had a lockdown, I think this is probably a smart decision but it is also Gladys's fault cause she didn't lockdown Sydney earlier and harder. And while our vaccination rates are abysmal they are rapidly improving

  6. NYGuy24

    Australia is in trouble if the virus gets loose in their country on a large scale. They don't have enough people vaccinated. With this variant and how quickly it spreads it would be a major disaster. Hence why their only option is to engage in extreme lockdowns until they can suppress the outbreak or get their vaccination numbers up

    1. Fed UP

      Absolutely true. they are following a foolhardy strategy and they are sitting ducks... just deflection to make people forget the govt. failed them in getting the vaccine.

  7. JD

    Nice try Australia and New Zealand. Let’s scare everyone to death. Show me one document that shows the SARS /covid-19/delta variants have been isolated. To date no such proof exists. So, could this mean Governments are having a hey day to see how closely they can influence and control human mindsets and behavior?

  8. Elijah

    @derekglass LOL. You're probably riding the gravy train mate with that comment, i.e., working for the government.... Australia is now a fortress with the peasants forbidden to leave the country. Every politician has a different opinion on the pandemic and they're suddenly all experts in epidemiology and Infectious diseases. We're a laughing stock to the rest of the world now

    1. [email protected]ss.com

      The fact you make up a bunch of clueless and ignorant assumptions about me shows the depth of your stupidity. Thank god your are powerless and your opinion counts for nothing.

  9. MurrayF

    The sooner we stop listening to medical people who want zero deaths and start listening to economists with a rational approach to balance deaths with the mental and financial costs of current policies the better. I suggest we halve the salaries of all politicians, epidemiologists and senior medical staff and see how long they continue to support current policies since they are 100% financially unaffected by their actions.

  10. Aussie

    This isn’t an issue with “zero covid”. The issue is Australia is full of ignorant vaccine snobs who think they’re too good for AZ vaccine.

    The population could have been vaccinated, they just chose not to.

    1. Robert Schrader

      It is completely an issue with #CovidZero, which is an unsustainable fantasy. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is already endemic in humans. It is a fact of life now, and has been since it escaped Wuhan, It will never be eradicated globally. If a country wishes to eliminate it, it will need to permanently remain isolate itself from the rest of humanity.

      The truth will set you free—literally, if you’re an Aussie or Kiwi prisoner.

  11. Andrew

    Ugh… my trip to New Zealand late November isn’t looking great right now.

    1. Robert Schrader

      You are 100% not going to New Zealand in November 2021. Absolutely no chance.

  12. Jan

    They should aim for zero flu and zero allergy also. And then… utopian perfection.

  13. Andy

    If they don't change their strategy, they will never open up again. And I'm not sure how much longer the locals support being sent into lock down once 20 infections occur ... I completely agree that as many as possible should get vaccinated and I guess even they will need booster shots now and then. But even if this is achieved, there will be outbreaks and it's not possible to go into lock down every time this happens. The "zero COVID strategy" is bound to fail.

  14. Geoff

    These two countries are aiming for 100% vaccination(will never happen) AND then zero Covid?? LOL.
    Sounds logical. They're gonna stay closed forever.

    1. EC2

      They’ve got it in there minds that they can eradicate it because they are islands. They also need to (like most countries) decouple cases from hospitalizations. Singapore is found the happy medium.

  15. Tom

    Australia and NZ should just quit screwing around and set up COVID camps. Essentially a covid prison and force people into it against their will for the safety of the state. We know they want to do this so just get on with it. Remember! No one has your best interest at heart outside of the almighty state.

  16. Cedric

    I think it's going to be a couple of rough months for Australia, but they where just pushing back the inevitable. I read that they should get the Pfizer shots in December. So they would be in lock down until what... March or May 2022?

    1. JDee

      You read incorrectly, Pfizer vaccinations have been ongoing since they first arrived in Australia in February 21. Deliveries from overseas are now around 1 million doses per week

    2. Fed UP

      December 2020 ?? Shame on the Government of Australia, that is 12 MONTHS BEHIND late, what are they doing ?

  17. Florian

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot about those "bubbles" that pop every other week.

  18. BlackHill

    Why do we keep referring to Australia as a 'former" prison colony?

  19. Daniel

    Australia’s app airs hours is ridiculous.

  20. Robert Schrader

    A large-scale Covid outbreak would be the best thing that could happen to Australia and/or New Zealand right now.

    Only if dealt a visceral reminder of the virus’ inevitability would such deluded populations accept it.

    1. John.S

      "Only if dealt a visceral reminder of the virus’ inevitability would such deluded populations accept it."

      No one here is deluded about the virus, that's why we're trying to keep it out as much as possible. There's a fine line between keeping your economy running as normally as possible (compared to pre-covid), whilst also not needlessly killing thousands of people. Once we've all been vaccinated (or offered jabs 1 and 2), then we will open...

      "Only if dealt a visceral reminder of the virus’ inevitability would such deluded populations accept it."

      No one here is deluded about the virus, that's why we're trying to keep it out as much as possible. There's a fine line between keeping your economy running as normally as possible (compared to pre-covid), whilst also not needlessly killing thousands of people. Once we've all been vaccinated (or offered jabs 1 and 2), then we will open back up to the outside world more freely.

      It was wonderful to have family from all over the country come home for xmas, no masks, plenty of hugs and kisses and not a worry in the world. That's how we have spent the majority of our time isolated from the world and the virus. Not deluded, but thankful it hasn't really got a hold here like some of our neighbours like Indonesia.

    2. Robert Schrader

      On the contrary, Scott Morrison has said that even when 100% of Australians have been offered the jab, that is not a guarantee of reopening, neither of the international borders, nor that state ones stay open. Authorities in Australia and New Zealand have suggested that mandatory quarantine could be required, even for fully vaccinated travelers, for years to come or in some cases (such as WA’s insane Mark McGowan) forever.

      That is not “fully open.”...

      On the contrary, Scott Morrison has said that even when 100% of Australians have been offered the jab, that is not a guarantee of reopening, neither of the international borders, nor that state ones stay open. Authorities in Australia and New Zealand have suggested that mandatory quarantine could be required, even for fully vaccinated travelers, for years to come or in some cases (such as WA’s insane Mark McGowan) forever.

      That is not “fully open.” And it stands in complete denial of the reality that SARS-CoV-2 will be with humanity in perpetuity.

      The only hope for these countries is that brave leaders will be honest with their populations about what the future will look like. So far, neither Scotty from Marketing nor Jacinda Zedong have even come close.

      Unless something major changes, and fast, the former prison colony will become a prison colony again.

    3. BernardBlack

      As disappointed as I am, and I certainly wish the vaccine rollout were better managed, I think it's fair to realize that Scotty is in fact a hostage to McGowan, Andrews and Palaszczuk.

    4. JDee

      "I think it's fair to realize that Scotty is in fact a hostage to McGowan, Andrews and Palaszczuk"

      Only in relation to State & Territory border controls & even then every & Territory has shut its borders at least once since the pandemic first appeared

      The Federal Government is fully responsible for obtaining vaccine supplies & then allocating them to States & Territories. Australia is lagging in vaccinating because the Federal Government was too slow...

      "I think it's fair to realize that Scotty is in fact a hostage to McGowan, Andrews and Palaszczuk"

      Only in relation to State & Territory border controls & even then every & Territory has shut its borders at least once since the pandemic first appeared

      The Federal Government is fully responsible for obtaining vaccine supplies & then allocating them to States & Territories. Australia is lagging in vaccinating because the Federal Government was too slow to order Pfizer & concentrated on AZ once trials of the vaccine under development by Queensland Uni were abandoned

    5. AA56

      Mark McGowan is not insane. He is a Legend and has kept WA safe. Life here is normal with no restictions.

    6. BernardBlack

      @AA56 Hope he sees this, bro!

    7. Robert Schrader

      Your life is not “normal” if you aren’t free to leave or return to your state or country.

    8. JDee

      Scott Morrison has no say on whether State Governments shut their borders, as has been shown by the numerous border closures since the pandemic started

    9. BernardBlack

      "It was wonderful to have family from all over the country..."? Are you high? I've had no fewer than three trips to take my kids to see my parents, between cities in Australia, cancelled by border closures in the last eighteen months. I've spent months on end not being able to leave my house except for brief exercise and grocery collection, trying to work and concurrently help my kids learn remotely.

    10. Pissed_off_Aussie

      Yeah great for you John. As an Aussie though, I’m disgusted that we’ve left 40,000 Aussies overseas with no plan to get them home. We’ve left them them on the battlefield as one of the only nations that refuses to allow citizens to freely return. That is abhorrent behavior. Also, while it’s great that you can see your family, how about if we locked them in the Simpson desert for 2 years and didn’t let...

      Yeah great for you John. As an Aussie though, I’m disgusted that we’ve left 40,000 Aussies overseas with no plan to get them home. We’ve left them them on the battlefield as one of the only nations that refuses to allow citizens to freely return. That is abhorrent behavior. Also, while it’s great that you can see your family, how about if we locked them in the Simpson desert for 2 years and didn’t let you see them, and didn’t tell you when that would change. That’s basically what we’ve done to people with family overseas. I can’t see my family, because I can’t leave Australia and they can’t come here. Our policy favors families born here who’s only inconvenience is the loss of their annual trip to Bali. It has devalued Australian citizenship and left us both vulnerable and the laughing stock of the world. The lack of strategy on the part of our politicians to the detriment of us all should see them in jail and Aussies hanging their heads in shame.

    11. Fed UP

      the fact that 40,000 Australian citizens are forbidden from entering their own country is outrageous. But that is what happens with a parliamentary system and no constitution, No check and balance. How can a country simply abandon its own citizens and maroon them, how do you expect them to survive outside the country where they cant work and do not have any legal status to stay somewhere ? Outrageous, and there is zero justification for this policy.

    12. Mike C

      Your assertion is wrong, Australia does have a constitution. Also, Australians are not forbidden from entering the country, anyone with enough money can come back almost immediately. As for everyone else quarantine quotas make it very difficult, unconscionably so.

    13. Fed UP

      Australia and NZ should have been vaccinated long ago, a failure of the government to do this, shame on them.

  21. Never In Doubt

    Everyone, everywhere will eventually get COVID-19 antibodies, either by vaccine, disease, or both.

    To plan for/expect anything else is foolhardy.

    1. EC2

      The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not have COVID-19 anti-bodies. They trigger the immune system to produce antibodies. The J&J vaccine I believe does have the COVID-19 antibodies.

  22. Phillip

    That’s the problem when a country attempts a “zero covid” policy! That just simply doesn’t exist unless everyone lives in permanent isolation and all borders are shut! And even then it will be a challenge!

    1. John.S

      Both countries have a commitment to fully opening up once the vaccine has been offered to every citizen, in the meantime their economies keep chugging along at a rate as good as any other country's without the need to kill thousands of people each week.

    2. Never In Doubt

      I’ve got money that says they don’t open once the vaccine has been offered to everyone.

    3. JBR

      Your assertion about their "economies keep chugging along" is absolutely wrong during the current lockdown in Australia. Australia's economy is being affected very significantly from their current lockdown. According to an article in the Economist, just the economy of the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is located) could be losing as much as $1 billion a week during the current lockdown, and the national economy could shrink in the third quarter of 2021...

      Your assertion about their "economies keep chugging along" is absolutely wrong during the current lockdown in Australia. Australia's economy is being affected very significantly from their current lockdown. According to an article in the Economist, just the economy of the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is located) could be losing as much as $1 billion a week during the current lockdown, and the national economy could shrink in the third quarter of 2021 if the lockdown continues.

    4. Ethan

      The people dying at this point in time are those who have not been vaccinated. 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths in Texas (for example) since February were people who were not vaccinated.

      If everyone got vaccinated, the death rate would plummet.

    5. Bernard

      The economy is not "chugging along", government is using my money to incentive other people's laziness and fear even more than usual, and there is in fact no credible commitment to open at any target vaccination level.

    6. Fed UP

      Once the vaccine has been offered to every citizen ? What are they waiting for, it should have been done LONG AGO. NZ is 5 million and Australia is 25 million, both wealthy countries. Its simply a cover and deflection for their government's failure to procure and administer vaccine, just like Canada did, way behind the curve.

  23. EC2

    136 cases is a surge? Neither country will ever open up is my guess.

    1. Timo

      Agree. Both countries should just admit that they do not intend to open borders for ten years. Sounds ridiculous now but could likely be their reality.

    2. Jan

      By the time they have vaccinated “every citizen”, said vaccine would be already outdated because the rest of the world has moved on with this endemic with their delta/lambda/zeta/omega etc variants

    3. Kair

      That is no execuse for not to try to supress the spread of the virus as much as possible.
      1. We know that the many vaccines still provide good protection against serious health outcomes even against all the known variants.
      2. More widely spread the virus, more variants there would be.
      If anything, we should thank them for not making the problem worse by generating more variants of the virus.

      Also from...

      That is no execuse for not to try to supress the spread of the virus as much as possible.
      1. We know that the many vaccines still provide good protection against serious health outcomes even against all the known variants.
      2. More widely spread the virus, more variants there would be.
      If anything, we should thank them for not making the problem worse by generating more variants of the virus.

      Also from the reading, I think they already realize it well that not everyone can be/will be vaccinated, but I think they believe that every should have a chance to get vaccinated before all the restrictions are removed, which I think is a good policy.

    4. [email protected]

      Ben, neither you nor anyone from the USA is entitled to pass judgement on a Australia. Half a million dead. Less than 1,000 dead. That’s the score. America prioritised money over life. And now you sit there, all tanned from a holiday in Greece and pass judgement on us? Revolting.

    5. Fed UP

      The OZ and NZ solution will never work. Little effort and money has been put into vaccinations, and as others have said, that won't be 100 percent effective as the virus mutates. With little natural herd immunity established, the countries are sitting ducks for the pandemic at some point. To completely withdraw from the world is not the solution The virus is mutating right there, just like it is in Canada and other countries that...

      The OZ and NZ solution will never work. Little effort and money has been put into vaccinations, and as others have said, that won't be 100 percent effective as the virus mutates. With little natural herd immunity established, the countries are sitting ducks for the pandemic at some point. To completely withdraw from the world is not the solution The virus is mutating right there, just like it is in Canada and other countries that tried to shut themselves off from the outside world. If OZ and NZ want to permanently shut their borders, including to their own citizens, that is there choice, but it will gain nothing in the end. The virus is mutating within as we speak.

    6. Kair

      At the moment, most countries are struggling with vaccination rate, mainly because of lack of supply of vaccines, not because they don't want to vaccinate or they don't plan on vaccinating their people.
      So saying "why aren't they vaccinated already" isn't really contributing much to the conversation here.

    7. Robert Schrader

      I think you’re just mad because the most exciting place you’re going to see before 2025 is Byron Bay. Here’s to hoping the border is open before Brisbane 2032!

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Pissed_off_Aussie

Yeah great for you John. As an Aussie though, I’m disgusted that we’ve left 40,000 Aussies overseas with no plan to get them home. We’ve left them them on the battlefield as one of the only nations that refuses to allow citizens to freely return. That is abhorrent behavior. Also, while it’s great that you can see your family, how about if we locked them in the Simpson desert for 2 years and didn’t let you see them, and didn’t tell you when that would change. That’s basically what we’ve done to people with family overseas. I can’t see my family, because I can’t leave Australia and they can’t come here. Our policy favors families born here who’s only inconvenience is the loss of their annual trip to Bali. It has devalued Australian citizenship and left us both vulnerable and the laughing stock of the world. The lack of strategy on the part of our politicians to the detriment of us all should see them in jail and Aussies hanging their heads in shame.

Robert Schrader

Your life is not “normal” if you aren’t free to leave or return to your state or country.

AA56

Mark McGowan is not insane. He is a Legend and has kept WA safe. Life here is normal with no restictions.

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