As plans to introduce a quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand continue, more surrounding countries are hoping to join in on the discussion.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shut down the suggestion of a “travel bubble” with any other country at this stage, focusing on getting the trans-Tasman corridor underway first.
“(New Zealand) Prime Minister Ardern and I discuss it (travel bubble) regularly and we are progressing with it well,” Mr Morrison said following the National Cabinet meeting in Canberra on Friday.
“Jacinda Ardern and I agree, the net benefits for our countries opening up to each other is a strong one and we have both put ourselves in a position to do it.
“I can’t see it with other countries … that is still a way off. But we are looking forward to that day (between both nations) being sooner rather than later.”
Mr Morrison’s comments come afterThe Guardian reported Israel was angling to join a travel corridor with Australia by launching flights between Tel-Aviv and Melbourne or Sydney by December, that would waive quarantine requirements.
The direct flights would allow for Australian residents to transit to places deemed safe in Europe – such as Greece and Denmark – without having the need to quarantine for 14 days.
To date, Israel has reported 16,872 cases and 284 deaths. Overnight, the Ministry of Health reported 79 new cases in Israel – the highest daily rise since May 2. In comparison to Australia, Israel currently has 1909 active cases of COVID-19, compared to fewer than 500 cases in Australia.
Speaking to The Guardian, Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, said a corridor between both countries would not only provide airlines with commercially viable routes, but be a “win-win” for the tourism sector.
Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Margy Osmond, said while the plan wasn’t impossible, all focus is on getting the trans-Tasman bubble in place across the ditch.
“I think it would be fair to say we’re just pretty focused on the trans-Tasman for the moment,” she told 3AW.
“We could be opening to New Zealand – Australia trips some time in July.”
Speculation around a July 1 start date for a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has intensified this week after the Tourism Restart Taskforce outlined a “timetable” for when we could start flights between nations.
The meeting, which took place on May 22, outlined domestic travel being in full swing by the end of June, while the first flight to Auckland could be possible by July.
“From our point of view, July 1 is possible,” John Hart, the Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, told news.com.au. “We can be ready by then for New Zealand visitors.
“We want to put that marker down of July 1, so if industry is called on as part of a bubble we will be ready … but this can only happen if health advice can happen and government restrictions can happen. So there’s a lot of things to go right for the bubble to happen.”
As part of the trans-Tasman bubble, residents would not be required to take part in a 14-day quarantine.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cautioned both New Zealand and Australian residents to not get too excited yet, despite the overwhelming “enthusiasm” to get the bubble going.
“Obviously what we want to do is make sure that we’ve got all of that border work in place, that we are ready to go when we have agreement on both sides of the Tasman that it is safe to proceed,” she said, according to Radio New Zealand.
“One of the conversations we’ve had is that we’ve perhaps had a little bit more time to see what is happening with our efforts to stamp out COVID with eased restrictions.
“Australia in some cases is just getting into that, so I’d say good work is taking place and it won’t be too long before we will be ready,” Ms Ardern said.