Australians eager to get the hell out of Australia for a while have seen their plans dashed by surging Covid cases around the world, along with their government’s exceptionally harsh travel restrictions. Europe, for instance, is happy to welcome Australian travelers in, but Canberra has rejected the idea out of hand, with PM Morrison even suggesting that international travel may not be allowed until the summer of 2021. The only hope that remains is the much talked about travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.
But that’s not a sure thing, especially for Aussies living in certain states. Just yesterday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the so-called bubble will likely be created on a state-by-state basis—not a national one. Ardern cited the fact that Queensland, for example, has managed to contain the virus, while Victoria, on the other hand, is currently struggling.
(With that said, many places around the world would kill to have Victoria’s Covid concerns. Like the US state of Florida, for one. Health officials there reported over 10,000 new cases Sunday. By contrast, Victoria is panicking about 120 cases. Of course, Florida does have a much larger population than Victoria—21 million to 6 million. Here’s an idea for a business: compile a list of all the regional and national populations in the world, buy a 1300 number, and create a system so that people can call, state a location, and be told the current population. But I digress.)
Ardern explained to various media outlets that she is waiting for word from Canberra regarding the nature of the bubble. According to her, it’s “Australia’s call.”
“It comes down to decision-making by Australia itself,” she said on the AM Show. “We’ve got our criteria for what we need to see—either as the country as a whole or state by state—in order to open up. Whether they choose to go state by state is a matter for them. If states continue to have their own border controls … then it is possible. But that’s actually Australia’s call, not ours.”
But as she stated elsewhere, New Zealand would move with greater caution toward a national bubble. Here’s what Ardern said to TVNZ:
“We have a system that would work with a state-by-state approach or a whole country approach. If it’s whole country we’ll be waiting because obviously there is community transmission in Victoria and we can’t risk that.”
So “Australia’s call” appears to be whether they want a travel bubble sooner or later.