If there was any speck of hope left of a two-way trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ happening by Christmas, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has practically eradicated it.
Jacinda Ardern said she didn’t “have the necessary protections” to open New Zealand’s border to Aussies anytime soon, and argued that Australia’s higher tolerance of COVID-19 community transmission was “problematic”, pointing to the recent outbreak in South Australia.
“What’s happening in South Australia only further reinforces the importance of having a good understanding of how Australia intends to manage their internal borders when there are outbreaks,” Ardern said, according to The Guardian.
“If they have an outbreak but they are instituting strong border controls, then it’s manageable. But if they have a tolerance level for community transmission that’s higher than ours, then it is problematic.
“What this underscores is why it’s so important that New Zealand has not rushed into this.”
Ardern’s latest trans-Tasman bubble comments are consistent with ones she made earlier this month, where she reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to continuing with its existing border settings “for now, while we work on what can be accommodated within those settings”.
“New Zealanders want and deserve a safe summer holiday, so our focus is on managing the existing risk profile,” she said at the time.
“By forgoing some freedoms, namely the free movement at our borders, we retain the long-term health of our population and the open economy we now enjoy.”
Both Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand revealed at Travel DAZE 2020 recently that they were both planning in anticipation of the trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ becoming two-way in the first quarter of 2021.
South Australia’s new “circuit breaker restrictions”
The COVID-19 outbreak in Adelaide prompted South Australia to announce a number of tough new restrictions yesterday for six days to provide a “circuit breaker” and help stop a potential second wave.
South Australians are now restricted from leaving their homes, with only one person per household able to leave once per day, for specific purposes. A further eight days of lighter restrictions will follow.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés (including takeaway food) are closed for the next six days, and weddings and funerals are banned.
Regional travel is no longer approved in South Australia, and holiday homes across the state are unavailable for lease or rental during the six-day period.
Inbound international flights have been cancelled, and South Australians are required to wear masks in all areas outside of their homes.
South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, said in an update earlier today that there are still 23 cases linked to the Parafield cluster.
The COVID-19 outbreak prompted other states and territories to tighten up their border restrictions for South Australian travellers in recent days, with Western Australia and Tasmania doubling down since their initial restrictions were announced.
Victoria announced today that it will close its border to South Australia for 48 hours from midnight tonight before the state implements a permit system on Saturday.
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