/ 06 April 2021

Australia-NZ travel bubble on the way

There will be cause to get on your brown paper horse and holler ‘yee-haw’ if Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern does what is expected today… Reports say that airports and airlines in New Zealand are gearing up for Ardern to give the green light for a quarantine-free, two-way travel bubble to be established with Oz – and its kick off is said to be in the coming days. Australia (except Western Oz) currently accepts Kiwiland’s travellers without requiring them to go into 2 weeks hotel quarantine, but travellers heading there from Oz are required to go through the fortnight freeze. Ardern has suspended plans for a two-way travel bubble twice before – in September last year and last month. Worth billions in tourism dollars, travel operators say it would mark a significant step towards COVID-normal.

Kiwi officials say they would take a state-by-state approach, so travellers from some areas may be excluded. Soz southeast Queensland/northern NSW… On that front, Queensland officials yesterday said they were confident there are no cases circulating around the community. And coronavirus restrictions in northern NSW lifted last night after a Byron man tested positive last week. He was infected by a Queensland nurse who attended a hen’s party in the tourist haven.

Geez, aren’t you chipper after an extended long weekend? You’re right, of course… It was an interrupted Easter for health policymakers with rounds of analysis/criticism about the pace of the COVID vaccine rollout. On Sunday, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said that a record 79,283 shots had been administered on Thursday. The pace will pick up this week with a doubling in the number of sites administering the shots and local vaccine production is also ramping up, he said. But Labor says the program is a mess. And immunisation expert Professor Robert Booy yesterday said the problems needed ironing out quick-sticks because “the possibility of the virus mutating to a more transmissible form is something that should concern us”. The vaccination program is likely to be the focus of Friday’s National Cabinet meeting.

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