A trans-Tasman bubble that is quarantine-free is scheduled
New Zealand and Australia have experienced multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 that resulted from a managed isolation facility and other border employees. Border workers who are frontline are being given a higher priority to be vaccinated across both nations, and this could lower the chance of it occurring again. However, it’s still possible, and therefore it is essential to have a well-constructed resurgence strategy.
It is expected that the New Zealand response to a new community case in Australia will be in line with the same decisions we’ve in the response to community-based cases here. A case that has an obvious connection to the border has an extremely low risk and can be controlled by contact tracing and without the need for restriction. In this scenario, the travel can continue as normal.
However, the fact is, as our modeling has revealed, the new case that has no obvious connection to the border is an increased risk of transmission as well as undetected cases. In this case, traveling from the state will be stopped until the risk decreases.
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When travel is resumed, travelers could be asked to pass an exam, or to remain when they return home or enter controlled isolation.
New Zealand wouldn’t have sufficient managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) capacity to accommodate everyone who is returning from a only one Australian state. The home isolation option is the best choice in the majority of cases. As long as individuals comply with the rules laid out for them, this will make the chance of the importation of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand very low.
Travelers planning to travel across the Tasman should consider the possibility of travel disruptions before purchasing tickets. It is essential to have contingency plans in case they need to defer travel or self-isolate upon return. However, “flyer beware” is the norm for international travel in the event of an outbreak.
It is also crucial to ensure that New Zealand and Australian authorities communicate contact information tracing efficiently should it be required and contact people who might have been exposed prior to travel.
Australian tourists will be required to download and install this NZ COVID Tracer software during their stay in New Zealand. This will assist health authorities in tracking down their contacts in the event that they are infected prior to travel or during their stay in the country.
People who travel within the quarantine-free zone will also be able to use separated “green-zone” airport facilities and will be split with passengers across the world. This prevents exposure to people who could be infected both in the air and at the airport.
Border controls for other nations
The most important aspect is that a safe travel bubble is dependent on New Zealand and Australia continuing strict border controls with other countries that have a community-wide transmission of COVID-19. This is essential until we reach a high level of vaccination spread across New Zealand and the threat from COVID-19 within our communities begins to diminish.
Removal of the requirement for visitors from Australia to undergo quarantine can free up a significant amount of capacities in MIQ facilities. If this facility were filled with individuals from countries with high rates of COVID-19, it could increase the likelihood of outbreaks that are border-related within New Zealand. Immunization of our MIQ employees reduces the risk but does not eliminate it.