New Zealand’s Prime Minister to join Australian cabinet . . .
Australia and New Zealand are considering a travel agreement, with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled to attend Australia’s national cabinet meeting on Tuesday through video conferencing to discuss the possibility. The idea of a ‘travel bubble’ between New Zealand and Australia has been floated for weeks, although Ardern has cautioned that obstacles remain. Opening international flights over the Tasman Sea could help kick-start the economies of both countries, which are looking to capitalize on their relative success in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Timing, inclusion of Pacific islands, still in question . . .
It is not clear when this ‘travel bubble’ could become a reality ¬– both countries still have domestic travel restrictions in place ¬– although there is speculation about an August start, possibly in time for the ski season and school holidays. Both countries almost completely shut their borders to foreigners in March, dealing a huge blow to their respective tourism industries, with spinoff effects extending to the small island states of the Pacific. Tourism-dependent and successful in preventing their own spread of COVID-19, some Pacific island states have begun signaling a tentative willingness to join the ‘travel bubble.’ Other states, such as Tonga, have proposed opening up to other island states with no COVID-19 cases, including Samoa and Vanuatu.
Canada to join a trans-Pacific 'bubble' of its own? . . .
The Tasman bubble proposal is being considered as a launch pad for other, broader travel bubbles, with some analysts proposing that Australia and New Zealand could eventually add Singapore, Japan, and China. Separately, Singapore and Japan are working to secure trade-related travel and supply chains for essential goods, while South Korea says it has agreed with China to re-start some business travel, effectively creating their own bubbles. Canada has yet to propose timetables to reopen borders or travel with the United States and Europe. However Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng, joined her counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea last week in agreeing to facilitate cross-border travel between all five states.
- Matangi Tonga Online: Tonga not ready to open borders, says Dr Siale 'Akau'ola
- South China Morning Post: New Zealand, Australia discuss coronavirus ‘travel bubble’ to allow two-way movement
- Straits Times: Coronavirus: Singapore, Australia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand commit to resuming essential cross-border travel