PM Scott Morrison has hinted that travel bubble with pacific neighbouring countries may not be far away. These would be travel bubbles that could help restart international travel for Australians.
Speaking last week on 2SM’s The John Laws Morning Show, Scott Morrison said Australia was in conversation with countries such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, and the Solomon Islands “and so on” about creating a travel bubble similar to the arrangement it already has with New Zealand.
“We don’t have full confidence yet that they are just going to a complete what’s called a green lane,” Morrison said.
“But, we’re working with them to ensure we can just lift that confidence. We’ll be seeking to support them with their testing over there.
The PM said the risk of Aussie travellers spreading COVID-19 to Pacific Island nations had decreased, thanks to Australia’s recent low rates of community transmission.
However, Morrison noted that if an outbreak was to occur in these countries whose health systems “aren’t the same as ours”, the impact would be “devastating”.
Health Minister Greg Hunt also recently hinted that a Pacific travel bubble was on the cards, telling the ABC’s 7.30: “I won’t make a false guarantee, but we think that, during the course of the year, the opportunities will increase, as the pandemic likely subsides internationally.
The federal government reacted swiftly on Monday to a Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand by suspending all flights coming from New Zealand for 72hrs.
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, convened an urgent meeting yesterday with chief health officers from the three states open to New Zealand ‘green zone’ flights – NSW, Queensland and Victoria – to discuss the three-day lockdown in Auckland due to an outbreak of three new COVID-19 cases.
It was decided at the meeting that all flights originating in New Zealand will be classified as ‘red zone’ flights for an initial period of 72 hours from 12.01am today.
As a result, all people arriving on such flights within this three-day period will need to go into 14 days of supervised hotel quarantine.
The stop-start nature of Australia’s travel bubble with New Zealand has created uncertainty about when this particular arrangement will become two-way, having been paused once again.
Judging from the above, how could any travel bubble survive? People booking flights would have to live with the fear of going into a self-funded quarantine if an outbreak would occur as it has not once but twice in the last 30 days with New Zealand.
By Joe Cusmano