Australia’s Prime Minister has hinted that a travel bubble with neighbouring nations might not be too far away.
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.
“And I hope we can make some real progress on that soon. I’d love to see a Pacific bubble.”
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.
“As that process of the pandemic numbers decreasing and the number of people who are vaccinated here increases, then we’ll be able to make new steps in opening up Australia, as we’ve done with the New Zealand bubble.”
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 for 72 hours due to Auckland’s three-day lockdown.
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