New Zealand Mulls Travel Ban Until Vaccine. Will Others?
New Zealand Considers Travel Ban Until Vaccine
New Zealand is playing a starkly different game in the fight against covid-19 than most countries. Rather than pursuing a model of suppression, where the goal is to “flatten the curve” and maintain working resources to slow the spread, New Zealand is looking for elimination, which is exactly how it sounds.
It’s a game of great sacrifice by all, and recent remarks by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicate it will mean sacrificing overseas travel, until a vaccine is available. Experts estimate this could take 12-18 months.
New Zealand aims to eradicate coronavirus, aka covid-19, from its shores entirely and to do so, the nation has administered the most rigid bans and social distancing guidelines of virtually any country, perhaps with the exception of Taiwan. It appears to be working. All returning citizens must enter a 14 day government quarantine upon arrival.
The State of National Emergency to support the COVID-19 response will be extended a third time, for a further seven days. This extension to the State of National Emergency does not change the length of the Alert Level 4 lockdown. Read more at https://t.co/9HHYOI5lZg
— National Emergency Management Agency (@NZcivildefence) April 14, 2020
According to polls, 88% of the country believes it’s pursuing the correct coronavirus strategy, and in recent televised remarks, Prime Minister Ardern ruled out foreign travel for the foreseeable future, insinuating a vaccine may be the tipping point. The remarks match up with information distributed to tourism officials.
In other words: no vaccine, no overseas travel. That means in, or out.
With 39% of covid-19 cases in New Zealand linked to overseas travel, it makes sense, and Australia just effectively ruled out overseas travel in 2020 anyway.
Australian Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, stated on national television “‘I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December”, while encouraging Aussies to consider domestic trips when bans are lifted..
If Australia is largely ruling out overseas travel in 2020, while employing a suppression approach, it’s only logical for New Zealand, pursuing an eradication/elimination approach to covid-19, to go a step further.
Even making all the sense in the world, the potential move would be a crippling blow to a country and economy deeply dependent on foreign tourism. Air New Zealand just received a government bailout which stipulates the airline must maintain all domestic routes for a period of two years, and without visitors to fill planes, those flights will prove incredibly costly.
You can’t put a figure on life, or public health, and New Zealand is taking an admirable approach to protect its citizens in these truly unprecedented times. For overseas visitors hoping to discover this otherworldly, beautiful country though, it’s sad times indeed. Until then, you can always dream.