New Zealand airports were full of tearful reunions on Monday as hundreds of passengers from Australia could travel to New Zealand for the first time in a year. The much anticipated Australia-New Zealand travel bubble means that visitors from Australia or returning Kiwis no longer need to quarantine on arrival.
While both countries have done an excellent job keeping their rates of people infected with COVID-19 low, they know that much of the stellar work was due to tight travel restrictions.
Several Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand residents since late 2020; New Zealand took a stricter approach by enforcing isolation on people arriving in the country.
The bubble is under constant review
When speaking about the re-opening of quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand, the counties Prime Minister Jacinda Adern is quoted by Reuters as saying the following:
“The bubble marks a significant step in New Zealand’s reconnection with the world, and it is one that we should all take a moment to be very, very proud of.”
Despite the jubilant scenes at the airports and the excitement of quarantine-free travel between the two countries, Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned travelers to be cautious. The pair said that the travel bubble will be under constant review and that in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, borders could close with little or no warning.
While not wanting to sound too dour, the pair also talked about the possibility of extending the travel bubble to other Pacific nations when it would be safe to do so.
A step in the right direction
When being interviewed by ABC News, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce described the opening of the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand as a step in the right direction. To keep up with demand, he said that Qantas would be adding 16 flights a day, and judging by the number of people wanting to travel, he expects them to be packed.
He also said that staff at Qantas are excited about the travel bubble as it has enabled 630 employees to return to work. Looking at the big picture, Joyce said, of course, he would like to see more international borders open up, but emphasized that it would have to happen safely. Joyce said that nobody wanted to see all the excellent work that they had achieved in the domestic market go backward.
When asked about when new bubbles, the airline boss said Qantas is still hopeful for the potential for travel bubbles like the one with New Zealand. He mentioned Pacific islands like Fiji or Asian nations like Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, and Japan, where they have low rates of COVID-19, as being possibilities.
Regarding the idea of health passports to prove vaccination status, Joyce said that he liked what Iceland was doing. People arriving in Iceland no longer need to quarantine if they can verify that they have been vaccinated for the coronavirus. He stressed that the need to not quarantine was key to getting people to travel, and that, as long as quarantines remain in place, people will stay home.
Looking at the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble, it can almost be described as a domestic flight due to the number of Kiwis who live in Australia. Travel bubbles to counties that are not so interconnected may prove to be more tricky.
While it’s great to see people entering New Zealand from Australia without having to quarantine, arrivals to New Zealand from any other country still need to quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.
Where do you think we will see the next travel bubble? Please tell us what you think in the comments.