Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put the idea of creating a trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand on ice, saying reopening state borders is the priority.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined the Australian government’s national cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the notion of allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand before borders open to other countries, creating a trans-Tasman bubble.
During the meeting, Ardern told the media the two countries “stand to benefit from getting travel up and running again” but said it would not happen until “we feel comfortable and confident that we both won’t receive cases from Australia, but equally we won’t export them”.
The two prime ministers released a joint statement announcing plans for a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone which stated they were “committed to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so”.
“Such an arrangement would be put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health,” the statement said.
“Any arrangement would need to take into account state and territory movement restrictions.
“We need to be cautious as we progress this initiative. Neither country wants to see the virus rebound so it’s essential any such travel zone is safe.
“Relaxing travel restrictions at an appropriate time will clearly benefit both countries and demonstrates why getting on top of the virus early is the best strategy for economic recovery.”
According to ABC News, Morrison said the “safe travel zone” between Australia and New Zealand would still be “some time away” but he expected New Zealand would be the first country Australia would open its borders to.
“At some point, both Australia and New Zealand will start connecting with the rest of the world again,” he said.
“The most obvious place for that to start is between Australia and New Zealand but that’s not something that’s about to start next week.”
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