After nearly seven weeks of quarantining, it’s fair to say we’re all itching for life to get back to normal as soon as possible. Restrictions are being lifted – or at least being considered – ever so slowly, with the health of Australians still being earmarked as a top priority.
But Australia is well on its way to “flattening the curve” with just 26 newly reported cases in the past 24 hours at the time of writing, and it’s believed the source of the majority of these is known to health officials. New Zealand has performed even better, reporting zero new cases for two consecutive days, no doubt thanks to the decision to go into stage 4 lockdown as soon as the pandemic hit. No messing around for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
It’s because of this relative success – at least, compared to some other major countries – that the idea of a trans-Tasman travel bubble has begun surfacing.
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You may have already heard about the aforementioned bubble, but just in case, it would essentially mean a private agreement between Australia and New Zealand that would allow residents and trade to come and go freely between the two countries across the Tasman Sea. Borders will still be closed to other international visitors to prevent any further outbreak of the virus.
For some, it’s still far too early to speak of the very idea of restarting travel between countries, especially when state borders haven’t reopened. In a time where Australians could be going stir-crazy stuck inside their own homes, the suggestion they could soon be able to hop across the pond to the land of Kiwis could incur a bit too much hype.
Scott Morrison has already said that the bubble would only be considered and implemented once “Australians can travel from Melbourne to Cairns.”
But far from just being satisfied with travel between the two big players in Oceania, The Australian suggests leaders should look even further afield to other Pacific islands – especially those that have reported zero cases of the virus for several weeks – as a way to encourage tourism. Pacific islands such as Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu are all virus-free and desperately need income from tourism to help them survive.
According to SBS Jacinda Ardern has already fielded questions about a wider travel agreement, to which she has said she is currently only focused on Australia.
“There is a huge risk if COVID finds its way currently into Pacific Island nations that have been untouched by COVID, so I would want us to act cautiously and in unison with the leaders of those countries,”
She goes on to say that she wouldn’t want any coronavirus cases to be brought into the poorer Island nations through fear they won’t have the infrastructure when it comes to health to deal with any outbreaks.
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To this extent, Australia has already confirmed it is ramping up its aid program to assist some Pacific Islands in response to the coronavirus, such as offering an increase in medical supplies which includes a greater number of testing kits. The Australian has added that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged fellow G20 members to increase their support to the Islands as well.
And of course, we’re all going to feel like we’ll need a holiday once the lockdown lifts completely, and despite the Government urging Australians to explore more of their own country, a tropical paradise comprising floating breakfasts will no doubt do a better job at helping relieve the stress and anxiety induced by the pandemic.