In potentially exciting news for the future of international travel, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jancinda Adern announced on Tuesday this week that from the 19th of April Australians would be able to visit New Zealand, and that’s without quarantining!
Australia opened its borders to travellers from New Zealand late last year, but New Zealand has taken a fair bit of time to reciprocate. Both countries have done an incredible job at preventing the spread of the virus, but at the expense of anyone’s ability to leave their own shores. Australia takes just a few thousand Australians back from overseas each week, who have to pay to quarantine in hotels. The only others allowed into Australia have been foreigners with a pressing reason to visit – for example those with Australian partners. The flights have been extremely expensive to get back home and then people have had to fork out thousands to stay in hotels for 14 days. And even then there have been breaches and Covid has got out into the community, especially here in Victoria.
But now, perhaps, things are on the up finally. It’s a very significant step, although the New Zealand Prime Minister has pointed out that the situation could change suddenly and borders could be locked down again or people might be forced into quarantine. And for me, until things are more settled, that’s enough to hold back for now.
In the background is the vaccination progress. This, despite whether you are pro or antivax, or something in between, is the great white hope for Aussies being able to travel again. Sadly here it has been going at a snail’s pace. We have around 900,000 people who have had the first dose of the vaccine but very few, so few the number is negligible at this stage, have had the second dose and been ‘fully’ immunised. And if you take out the USA, Israel and Chile, the rest of the world isn’t exactly racing along at full pace either.
If governments are looking at a certain percentage – perhaps 70% – of the planet being vaccinated before things go back to something like normal, well, it seems a heck of a long way away. Having said that, around 1.9% of the world has been FULLY vaccinated at this stage and the rate is increasing, not to mention many countries have really focussed on getting that first dose done, knowing that a couple of months or more between doses increases the effectiveness of at least the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
Australia also is in talks with Singapore to create a similar travel bubble with them, and who knows other countries may be open to Australia by mid-year. Certainly it’s still a fair while before the majority of the world is accessible again, but it’s a start. Fingers crossed it goes well, with the European summer coming up and more vaccinations across that continent, the way things go there will probably be the biggest indicator to how well the world is doing in general as it seems to have been at its worst in Europe.
Apparently a flood of flights to and from New Zealand opened up on the announcement. Let’s hope they fill and they run and a decimated industry – the travel and airline industry – sees the boost it is desperately needing right now! Thanks and May the Journey Never End!