The likelihood of travel between Australia and New Zealand taking off in 2020 has been further dashed by the Kiwi Prime Minister.
Speaking to the country’s media on Monday, Jacinda Ardern said coronavirus community transmission in Australia was too high to consider opening New Zealand’s borders to Australians.
Ardern also offered her support to Victorians beginning their hard COVID-19 lockdown, with the state entering a state of disaster and Stage 4 restrictions on Sunday.
“Part of our criteria is anywhere we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time, 28 days,” she told The AM Show.
“That is going to take a long time for Australia … so that will be on the backburner for some time. Their numbers at the moment are very high.
“[Victorian Premier] Dan Andrews himself said they were looking like being in that position for months, which is why they’ve gone into their lockdown,” she said.
Ardern said the situation in Victoria is heartbreaking, and expressed sympathy for world leaders grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s incredibly difficult to watch to see our cousins over the ditch going through this,” she told 1News.
“It’s also a message to us to continue to maintain our vigilance.”
The New Zealand PM, who attended a meeting of Australia’s national Cabinet in May, added she would be happy to pick up the phone for any advice or required conversations from Australian leaders, as reported by the Australian Associated Press.
“Dan Andrews and those in Australia that we’ve had contact with certainly know we are available at any point to talk through all lessons learned,” Ardern told Radio NZ.
“We’ve all learnt them and we’re all still learning them.”
Speaking to New Zealand’s network Three, Ardern said: “I have sympathy for every world leader dealing with COVID right now. It is incredibly difficult.
“There is a bit of camaraderie amongst leaders because we are all facing the challenges of economic downturn, a global financial crisis and the ongoing effects of managing the health response. It is a very tricky virus.”
In addition, Ardern also confirmed that work to link the Cook Islands with New Zealand continued.
“I imagine I at least will be able to give a set time frame within the next couple of weeks where we can start talking about dates,” she said.
However, Ardern’s comments come in contrast to those of Australia’s Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, who last week said he still hoped the bubble could be achieved in 2020.
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