Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: Canberra is in the process of attempting to establish quarantine-free travel bubbles with a number of countries.
Prime Rib Roast Minister Morrison says the first such bubble would be with New Zealand, though Wellington has made it pretty clear that it wants nothing to do with Australian tourists right now. Kiwis can soon travel to Australia without quarantining, but they’ll have to quarantine upon returning home.
Having had the virus under control for many months, New Zealand isn’t especially eager to give the virus a new lease of life by letting tourists into the country. On October 7 it was reported by the Ministry of Health that the total number of confirmed infections in New Zealand is 1,505. Of the 37 active cases at that time, all of them were imported, meaning is there is zero community spread.
Australia, apart from the Victoria outbreak, has managed the pandemic relatively well. Far better than, say, the United States, where the entire country is a coronavirus hotspot. It has more than 9 million confirmed cases and over 230,000 deaths. Nonetheless, in a recent report from the White House, “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” was cited among Donald Trump’s major accomplishments as president. Sounds like American leaders could use some basic online tutoring on semantics…
Returning to the travel bubbles, Australia is desperate to get them up and running so as to inject some much needed cash flow back into the ailing economy. After New Zealand, the plan is to open corridors with Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
“But we have to go cautiously on this. Very, very cautiously,” Morrison said. “Covid-19 hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s still there. And no less aggressive today than it was six months ago.”
As for Europe and the US, you can forget about it for the time being. After announcing the opening of borders to tourists from New Zealand, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham stated that “the prospects of opening up widespread travel with higher risk countries will remain very reliant on effective vaccination or other major breakthroughs in the management of COVID.”
Vaccines are expected to be ready for distribution by the end of the year. Distribution is expected to take a very long time.