By TRACEY ROXBURGH
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won’t put any potential timeframe on the opening of borders between New Zealand and Aussie, but says the highly-anticipated trans-Tasman bubble hasn’t been delayed by recent presentations of Covid-19 in NZ.
As of Thursday there were two new cases of Covid-19 in NZ, and active cases were at 18 – all of those have recently returned from overseas, and are or were in managed isolation or quarantine facilities.
In Queenstown last Friday, Ardern exclusively told Mountain Scene work’s continuing on getting the borders between here and Australia open – she just won’t be drawn on how far off that could be.
While New Zealand’s in a “solid position”, the same can’t be said for other parts of the globe, including parts of Australia – particularly Victoria – where it’s still “working on their status”.
The new cases here, she says, are completely expected, particularly because Covid’s surging globally at present.
“We had 187,000 cases reported in one day [last] week and so while it’s growing around the world, we’re also seeing the borders open and people are moving.
“So, NZers are more able, and people with the right to live here, are more able to get home.
“That’s why the quarantine is still really important … but it doesn’t therefore change the wider work [on the bubble].”
Ardern says the “biggest stumbling block” to opening the border is making sure both countries are “in the right place”.
“One of the reasons I haven’t been quick to make judgements on [timing] is because it just creates expectation and, given certainty’s so important and this is a virus that we can do as much as we can to control here, it’s another thing again to say that you can control what’s happening in Australia.
“We are doing the planning right now, though, so nothing’s been lost.”
Ardern says the work includes understanding how to ensure anyone travelling had consistently been in either of the two countries for the previous 14 days.
They also have to keep people transiting through airports separate to those moving between Aussie and here, how to keep them on separate flights, separate disembarkation and separate lanes.
“You just can’t risk any contact.”