Jacinda Ardern has called off plans for a trans-Tasman travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia.
The New Zealand Prime Minister said flights between the two nations was out of the question as Victoria struggles to contain a coronavirus outbreak.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a stage four lockdown on Sunday as his state recorded 671 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths.
The amount of community transmission has delayed the possibility of travel between New Zealand and Australia by several months.
New Zealand has not seen a single case of community transmission in 93 days compared to Melbourne’s 760 active coronavirus cases with no known source.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled plans for the trans-Tasman tourism bubble as Victoria struggles to contain a coronavirus outbreak
Premier Daniel Andrews announced a stage four lockdown on Sunday as Victoria recorded 671 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths (Pictured: Deserted Melbourne on Sunday night)
Ms Ardern told Radio NZ the outbreak was a ‘major step back for the trans-Tasman travel.
‘Obviously this is going to be some time away now,’ Ms Ardern said.
Ms Ardern said all of Australia would need to be free of community transmission for at least 28 days before the travel bubble goes ahead.
‘Anywhere where we have COVID-free travel they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time – that will be some time for Australia,’ she told The AM Show.
Australia could approve plans for a travel bubble with New Zealand on a state-by-state basis, Simon Birmingham said
‘It will be on the backburner for several months.’
For the next six weeks, Melburnians are banned from leaving their homes between 8pm and 5am unless for work or care-related reasons.
While the restrictions are the most intense in Australia so far, they are still not as harsh as New Zealand’s level four lockdown.
There was a possibility of opening up the trans-Tasman bubble state-by-state as other locations in Australia are better off than Victoria.
Federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham announced last Thursday that there could be approval for a travel-bubble on a state-by-state basis.
The Morrison government previously said Australia would only enter into a travel agreement if state borders were open and all residents had access.
But Senator Birmingham said he hoped the plan could move forward ‘at some point this year,’ according to the Australian Financial Review.
‘If New Zealand was ready to move and the rest of country in Australia was ready to move – but we had this quarantine still in place around Victoria – well that’s an idea that’s worth entertaining,’ he said at a Tourism and Transport Forum summit.
While the Melbourne restrictions are the most intense in Australia so far, they are still not as harsh as New Zealand’s level four lockdown
Melbourne’s restrictions came into place from 6pm Sunday and will run for six weeks before being reevaluated on September 13
‘[The government would] see if we can manage to work it out with the Kiwis so they can travel safely to Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth.’
But comments made by Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran last week suggest the plan may not go ahead until 2021.
‘[The travel bubble] felt a little bit closer eight weeks ago,’ he said.
‘Now it feels that possibly, that maybe, at best, [it could come at] the end of this year, and probably more likely next year.’
Melbourne’s restrictions came into place from 6pm Sunday and will run for six weeks before being reevaluated on September 13.
Under the ‘stage four’ restrictions, Melbourne residents will only be allowed to exercise for an hour a day and can’t travel more than 5km from home for the purpose of shopping.
Victoria recorded 671 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday (pictured). A Stage 4 lockdown will see nearly all shops close and high school students back to learning from home
Only one person from each household will be able to go to the shops each day.
Metropolitan Melbourne will be under a nightly curfew, between the hours of 8pm to 5am, from Sunday night with some exemptions for those providing care and travelling to and from work.
Regional Victoria will move to ‘stage three’ restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms and other businesses to shut from midnight on Wednesday.
Victoria recorded seven new deaths from coronavirus on Sunday, taking the national toll to 208, along with 671 new cases.
Six of the deaths were connected to the age care sector.
Seventy-three of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks while 598 remain under investigation.
WHAT IS THE TRANS-TASMAN BUBBLE
Australia and New Zealand have discussed the possibility of a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’.
The bubble would allow residents from both countries to travel across the ditch without having to endure a mandatory 14-day isolation period.
The idea has been raised as both countries have been successful in controlling the outbreak of the coronavirus.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the bubble would only be introduced if they could guarantee they would neither import or export cases.