A Trans-Tasman bubble allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand is “on pause” after new COVID-19 outbreaks.
It’s bad news for anyone in need of a much-needed break. As per The Guardian, Australia’s minister for the Pacific, Alex Hawke, said both countries remain committed to establishing the travel bubble as soon as is safely possible. Although work is continuing on the logistics of such a system but completion isn’t imminent.
“The Trans-Tasman bubble’s on pause for a little bit, but as soon as we are able to get policy commitment to it, we want to be administratively ready. New Zealand has indicated that there will be a short pause on that but they are committed to the outcome,” Hawke told a Pacific press briefing.
Early reports stated that a Trans-Tasman bubble could be ready as early as September. It looks likely to now be delayed until after New Zealand’s next general election. Even that event is uncertain now, given the new COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland this week.
“The NZ election is, of course, an issue,” Hawke said. “They might take some time to get through that, which of course disrupts government, and so that [travel bubble] may be off until after the election.”
Closer to home, the recent upsurge in cases has forced Melbourne into a second lockdown.
A larger pan-Pacific travel bubble has always been discussed but sadly appears unlikely to commence for a while. Australia is in discussions with Fiji about opening two-way travel between the two countries, but Hawke said no other Pacific country had yet expressed an interest in opening their borders to travellers from Australia.
“Other countries so far have not indicated their willingness to have a bubble yet and we understand that. But as people want to partner on this, we’re engaging with them,” Hawke said.
New Zealand has also been in talks with the Cook Islands, but the recent Auckland outbreak has likely delayed that also.