The final details on a travel bubble with New Zealand could be hammered out on Monday – but it’s still unclear when flights will resume across the ditch.
New Zealand’s Cabinet is set to meet on Monday, with local media reporting discussion of quarantine-free travel for Australians is on the agenda.
Watch Dan Tehan speak on a travel bubble arrangement in the video above
It would come nearly 10 months since the idea of a trans-Tasman travel bubble was first floated.
Key issues hindering the progress include how each country would respond in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“There’s a few issues still to talk through, including what we do in the event there is an outbreak, how we manage people who aren’t in their home country at that time,” NZ Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told Radio New Zealand.
“So we’re working through that, but I’m very optimistic we’ll sort that out in reasonably short order. I don’t think we’re too far off.”
The New Zealand Herald on Thursday reported a bubble would be at least three weeks away because of logistics.
That includes airports and airlines implementing necessary safety precautions and systems.
Jacinda Ardern has stopped short of speculating on when the bubble may be launched.
“We haven’t put precise dates around it just because we want to make sure when we announce it, we can give something definitive to people,” she previously said.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan early last week said Singapore was hoping to get involved in travel arrangements.
“We’ve obviously attempted to open up a bubble with New Zealand. At the moment, that’s a one-way bubble,” he told Sunrise.
“We’re hoping New Zealand will allow Australians in without quarantining in coming months and Singapore have expressed an interest, when I put it to them.”
“If we could get that bubble expanded between New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, or one just operating with Singapore itself, that would be another step in the right direction.”
But for now, from New Zealand’s perspective at least, the focus is on a trans-Tasman arrangement.
“Australia is the country that most closely mirrors both our strategy and our management at the borders,” she said.
New Zealanders have been allowed to travel quarantine-free into Australia’s eastern states since October.
The arrangement was close to being made reciprocal at the end of 2020 before the Northern Beaches outbreak.