Trans-Tasman travel: Prepare to be stuck ‘for weeks’ if you travel under re-opened bubble, expert says

Health workers are seen at Bondi Beach Drive-through Covid-19 Clinic on June 26 in Sydney.

Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Health workers are seen at Bondi Beach Drive-through Covid-19 Clinic on June 26 in Sydney.

Quarantine-free travel to South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory has resumed, but one epidemiologist warns anyone planning a trip should be prepared to spend weeks or even months stuck there.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor Rod Jackson said the Government should be prepared to suspend the bubble at the first sign of community transmission across the ditch, and travellers needed to be aware they could be stranded at a moment’s notice.

“I’ve seen some things in the newspaper and the media about people complaining they are not being helped by the New Zealand government when they’re stuck in Australia and can’t come back.

“I think that they need to suck it up, that anyone who wants to go to Australia needs to be aware that at a moment’s notice they could end up being there for weeks, if not months.”

READ MORE:
* Should the trans-Tasman bubble be paused until more people are vaccinated?
* Covid-19: What’s happening in Australia as coronavirus continues to spread in some states
* Covid-19: New Zealand is right to pause travel to Australia. It buys time to upgrade its coronavirus response

Jackson said he was confident in Australia’s handling of Covid-19, with their approach similar to New Zealand’s.

“But – and the big but is – if there’s even some possibility of any community spread in Australia we need to shut down immediately.”

A negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure will now be required for all passengers before boarding flights to New Zealand from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Inbound travellers also cannot have been in certain red zones since certain dates.

These include a requirement not to have been in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia on or after 10.30pm on June 26.

Travellers must also not have been in New South Wales since midnight on June 22.

The pause in the travel bubble for Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland remain in place. These will be reviewed on Tuesday.

The most recent numbers reveal 16 new local cases of Covid-19 recorded in New South Wales, with most in isolation for their full infectious period.

The dip in new cases follows Saturday having the highest number of daily cases so far this year.

Experts have started advising caution on re-establishing the Australian travel bubble too quickly, with new threats from the highly infectious Delta variant likely to make accidental importation of the virus more likely.

Jackson said the principle should be remaining overly cautious.

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“I don’t think we can change that approach until nearly everyone is vaccinated.”

He said New Zealand needed to aim for a 90 per cent vaccination rate because evidence from the likes of the UK showed even with 60-70 per cent of eligible adults vaccinated, outbreaks were still happening.

“That’s the task for the team of 5 million – we all need to get vaccinated.”

“There’s no halfway with Covid, it’s pretty much all or nothing.”

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