Scenic panorama of Cape Brett lighthouse on the coast of New Zealand during sunset. Located in Bay of Islands, popular tourist destination for its natural beauty.

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.

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.

Scenic panorama of Cape Brett lighthouse on the coast of New Zealand during sunset. Located in Bay of Islands, popular tourist destination for its natural beauty.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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Haha, ludicrous. There still isn’t a “vaccine” for AIDS and quite a few other viruses that have been around BEFORE 1980 but keep on keeping on

    1. I think people are looking for anything, such as current EBOLA treatments which can curb a large percentage. Are you saying getting Flu shots is useless too, because that would answer a lot of questions…

    2. Talking is cheap right now. Most likely ppl will adjust to the new normal and we’ll change our behavior accordingly.

  2. I have non-refundable domestic and trans-Tasman tickets booked on NZ for September. It appears I won’t even be let in the country since I am not a citizen. Hopefully NZ does the right thing and refunds me instead of issuing one of those credits airlines seem to love.

  3. Here in the US we’re subjected to a death “counter” 24/7 on the news.
    So if “you can’t put a figure on life”, I hope that we’ll also be keeping track of the ensuing deaths from suicide, depression, starvation, domestic violence, substance abuse, et al due to this lockdown.
    But of course this won’t happen.

  4. Wow. It’s amazing how badly countries are willing to hurt their own people.
    Could you imagine if this is how most of the world acted?

    Talk about biting off your nose to spite your face.

    Hopefully logic and reason win out over panic and lack of science here.
    This virus is one of the least important things to happen to humans – ever.
    Yet, politicians love power. And if the people demand to be lorded off – by golly, politicians will do it!

  5. I have an open jaw economy ticket from MEL-AKL-SYD in May. Air NZ is offering me a voucher, but not a refund. Given this news, a voucher would be worthless.

  6. Ardern not quite as popular here in NZ as the 88% poll is indicating. Must be a wide margin of error. NZ has one of the strictest lockdown regimes in the world. NZers have been basically under house arrest for 3 weeks now, unable to even go in the car apart from to the supermarket or doctors.

    There is an election coming up here in September, I’m sure if Ardern senses people are getting too fed up she will loosen restrictions accordingly. In the meantime she has basically dismantled the NZ economy for many years possibly decades to come. She locked everyone down but left our borders open for another two weeks with an ‘honesty box’ system of quarantining. Her ultimate destination is a post on the UN following her mentor Helen Clark.

  7. It’s quite frankly outrageous that governments are playing “ god “ re the preciousness of life over covid 19 but don’t feel the same about other disease deaths ! Hypocrisy !! And a total total over reaction by authorities and letting the “ white coats “ have there day !!!!

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