Australia is not having fun right now, at least certainly not when it comes to travel.
The country was successful in limiting worst outcomes during the early days of the pandemic by largely closing off from the world and entering states of emergency, but leadership in the Australian Government underestimated the importance of vaccines, which now appear to be the only real way “out”.
After being the envy of many last year, with life largely back to “normal”, Australia is back in intense lockdowns as the rest of the world reopens, declaring a new state of emergency this week. In response, New Zealand is shutting the door on Australia’s only travel bubble.
Australia – New Zealand Travel Bubble Bursts, Again
The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand provided the only glimmer of international travel hope for Australians during much of the covid-19 pandemic.
Skiing in Queenstown or Sauvignon Blanc on Waiheke made it easy enough to forget that an Australian passport was more of an idea than a reality over the last 18 months, with quarantine free travel between the two Pacific nations.
With the exception of the bubble, outbound travel is effectively banned from Australia, and even citizens and residents are struggling to return to the Pacific nation, with a bizarre new government limit on arrivals.
Now, that glimmer is a distant memory, as New Zealand shuts the door on the travel bubble, yet again from Friday, July 23rd.
New Zealand says it’s protecting hard earned gains against the pandemic by closing off to Australia. Quashing any hopes for an imminent return of the bubble, Australia has one of the the worst vaccination rates among all leading nations.
Without advanced warning, New Zealand unilaterally ended quarantine free travel for Australians, and will require New Zealanders currently in Australia to return on “green flights” with added precautions in place.
New Zealanders returning from New South Wales will be required to quarantine in a government facility for 14 days, while other arrivals will be required to test before departure and after arrival.
The bubble had previously been burst from select Australian territories, but is now deflated on a nationwide basis and will remain that way for a review period of at least 8 weeks, until a new assessment is made. Until vaccinations ramp up, it’s hard to see Australia reopening international travel on any level, any time soon. 2023, maybe?