Australia, New Zealand could reopen borders for the 'travel bubble'. This trans-Tasman bubble appears to be the first step in restarting overseas travel, with Singapore possibly next on the list. NZ is likely to be the first international destination opened up when Australia’s travel restrictions are lifted, as the two island nations create a trans-Tasman ‘bubble’ sealed against COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed discussions with New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern about reopening their borders, which would be a welcome boon for business travellers and holiday-makers. The two counties were on "similar trajectories..." and "If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that's New Zealand,” Morrison said.
Now that we have savoured the good news, lets looks look at the the not so great. “For both of us I anticipate the border restrictions will be present for a long time, so it becomes whether or not there’s anything we can build into our border restrictions that take into account our goals to keep COVID out for both of us.” The same idea has been discussed with Singapore, which has adopted similarly aggressive measures to Australia and New Zealand.
Creating the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble Restrictions
Professor Kevin Markwell, Professor of Tourism at Australia’s Southern Cross University, told Executive Traveller “once it was considered safe enough by medical authorities, it would make sense to open up Australia to international tourism in a staged way, just as other sectors of the economy are likely to transition in a staged way.”
Elements to those stages? Passport, boarding pass, blood test...
“....and perhaps requiring all travellers to download an app which could be used to track their movements within each country"
To keep the trans-Tasman bubble intact, Markwell says travel might be restricted to those with a lower risk of suffering serious illness “and perhaps requiring all travellers to download an app which could be used to track their movements within each country, in case this was necessary to trace contacts if any further outbreaks were to take place.” Futhermore it was said , “The ability to quickly put a halt on travel between the two countries will also need to be built into any strategy,” Markwell cautioned, “Whether people would be willing to risk travel if their travel insurance didn’t cover them for illness associated with COVID-19 is another consideration."
Emirates has started testing passengers for Covid-19 before flying out of Dubai, while Etihad Airways will soon begin trials of contactless scanners, developed with Australian company Elenium Automation, to identify travellers with medical conditions, including the early stages of coronavirus. The devices would be located at check-in areas, information kiosk, bag-drop facilities and security or immigration checkpoints.
Perhaps the real question is whether people would be willing to risk travel if their travel includes an Orwellian checklist of loss of rights...