Huge news from the world’s greatest Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, this afternoon.
The Trans-Tasman bubble will open at 11.59pm on Sunday, April 18. Unclear why they couldn’t have just made it 12am April 19, but who cares when this is the sitch: New Zealand will allow Australian travellers to enter the country without mandatory hotel quarantine.
‘Cabinet was presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met’, Ardern announced at a press conference today. While the prospect of getting on a plane (gasp) and flying to a different country (!!) is definitely worthy of celebration, Ardern was quick to warn that the rug could be pulled out from under us at any point. ‘Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so under the guidance of flyer beware. People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak.’
What’s the deal for Australians?
The bubble means Australians can fly to anywhere in New Zealand without having to spend 14 days in mandatory quarantine, as is required for anyone entering the country from anywhere else. When Australians return home from their trip, they will not be required to quarantine on the other side, either. In other words… Freedom!
What’s the deal for New Zealanders?
Kiwis have enjoyed the benefits of a one-way bubble which has allowed them to enter Australia (sans WA) Quarantine-free since October. So for them, the only thing that’s changed is that now they have to, like, reciprocate? NZ has enjoyed GOAT status for their handling of the pandemic and has been regarded globally as the safest country in the world to sit out the past year. The Trans-Tasman bubble won’t jeopardise that safety as anyone flying into NZ will go through an airport ‘green zone’ where they’ll be kept separate from possible COVID positive travellers arriving from other parts of the world.
The Trans-Tasman bubble has been a year in the making, and was first floated back in April 2020 before we all really knew the fresh hell that awaited us. It almost came to fruition a bunch of times over the proceeding 12 months, but COVID outbreaks in VIC and NSW kept setting it back. Now that we’ve managed to keep a large community-transmission fuelled outbreak at bay, the deal’s back on. But Ardern says that if another outbreak (featuring a number of community cases with an unknown source) was to occur in any Australian state pre or post-bubble opening, a temporary suspension of the bubble would take place. If there was a case linked to a quarantine or border worker that was immediately contained, the bubble would likely continue.
Should you go?
Is the pope an 84-year-old Argentinian man whose homophobic and pro-life opinions have been awarded extra weight because he wears a big white hat? 100%! Pre-COVID, Australian tourism contributed about $2.5 billion to the NZ economy each year, so it’s time to bust open your piggy banks and inject some coin back into one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Earlier in the year, Virgin announced they had suspended the sale of flights to New Zealand until October, citing the volatility of the border closures. No word yet on whether they’ll jump back into the mix after today’s announcement, but Qantas has already increased flight options from a few per week to several per day. As of a few minutes ago, return flights to Auckland from Sydney on Qantas and/or Air New Zealand are going for about $600 a pop. Only question left is, North Island or South?