There was news coming out of New Zealand today where the local media was reporting that the country’s external border may stay closed for an extended period of up to two years.
Australia and New Zealand were talking about a trans-Tasman travel bubble late spring (northern – fall in the southern hemisphere) that would also include the Pacific Islands with close ties to both countries. This plan has now been scrapped due to an increasing number of infections in Australia.
Here’s what ABC.net.au reports about the travel bubble:
Speaking on NZ’s The AM Show on Monday morning, Ms Ardern said Australia’s coronavirus community transmission levels were too high to contemplate opening her nation to its citizens.
“One of the things we said as part of our criteria was that anywhere we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time, 28 days,” she said.
Ms Ardern said it was “very hard to predict” when travel between the two countries might restart, but indicated it might be “on the backburner for … several months”.
About the border closure extending for two years? Here’s what NZHerald has to say:
A New Zealand Government job advertisement has raised speculation our country’s border could be closed longer than expected.
The role helps co-ordinate returning Kiwis’ stay in managed hotel isolation – but it has been listed as a fixed two-year contract – raising questions over how long the Government plans to keep our borders shut.
The listing said has several roles “being set up to support Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) unit at MBIE to contribute to the All of Government Response to Covid-19”.
“There is no timeframe for the operation of the managed isolation and quarantine system. We are in an unprecedented times with a global pandemic uncontrolled outside our borders,” the spokesperson said.
Zero community transfers for 28 days is practically impossible unless you seal the country’s external border completely, and quarantine all returning citizens for a couple of weeks. Even then, there is likely unnoticeable community transfer of Covid-19 taking place.
I wouldn’t make any plans to visit New Zealand or even Australia before 2022. We may have a vaccine available in the first half of 2021, but It won’t be a silver bullet but rather just the beginning of getting this Covid-19 under control.
It is easy to seal the borders, but very difficult to reopen them as most of the countries have found out.