When the bubble bursts

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
It seemed optimistic, to many, to be enthusing about a "transtasman bubble" so soon after New Zealand emerged from the difficult but (relatively) brief period of Covid-19 lockdown.

Businesses and the tourism industry, understandably, were particularly keen to reopen two-way travel between Australia and here as soon as possible to bounce back from the dark economic days of April-May.

In May, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she thought a transtasman bubble by September was "realistic". A month later, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was bullish about the chances of it opening even earlier. And as recently as July 3, Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the bubble was still on track.

While Covid-19 appeared to be spiralling in some of our other key tourism markets, notably the United Kingdom, the transtasman neighbours seemed to be tracking nicely towards eradication, and both prepared to help each other out in the spirit of the Anzacs.

But that has all come to a screaming halt, and the chaos raging in Victoria right now suggests hopes of allowing travel between Australia and here as soon as September were utterly fanciful.

Other states are having isolated issues and have either delayed loosening some restrictions or introduced new rules on gatherings and interstate travel.

Victoria, however, has been forced back into drastic measures as it finds itself at the epicentre of a new Covid-19 wave. Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a state of disaster on top of a state of emergency, and a lockdown that is slightly less restrictive than New Zealand’s but still fairly comprehensive has been declared, including a curfew for Melbourne.

Active cases in the state have leaped to 6500 — many are "mystery cases", meaning it cannot be determined how they contracted the virus — and there were 13 deaths on Monday.

Understandably, the concept of a transtasman bubble has been shaken to its core.

Ms Ardern has said the bubble would not be in place "any time soon" due to the resurgence of Covid-19 in parts of Australia.

"One of the things that we set as part of our criteria is anywhere where we have quarantine-free travel, they have to be free of community transmission for a period of time — 28 days," she said.

"That is going to take a long time for Australia to get back to that place, so that will be on the backburner for some time."

The transtasman bubble is important, obviously. Resuming full trading and tourism relations with our neighbours will be a massive boost for the New Zealand economy.

But we must not jump the gun. We must be absolutely certain the borders remain secure. The Government is holding firm, and so must we.

AND ANOTHER THING

In the words of more than a few moderately shell-shocked Otago sporting fans: how ’bout them Nuggets?

The Otago men’s basketball team’s charge to a national title at the weekend had the whiff of the charming and the romantic about it.

Considering the Nuggets had been dormant for six years, and as recently as May were not even certain they would take part in the revised post-Covid national competition, they did marvellously well to claim victory.

The circumstances — a team in recess, a global pandemic, no home games, a couple of the best teams pulling out, the first draft for a major code — were perhaps the most unusual in the history of New Zealand sport, but this achievement carries no asterisk.

Special praise must be reserved for talismanic coach Brent Matehaere and driving force Angela Ruske. We hope they will get a chance to do it all again next year.

Comments

Talismanic. Very good. Usually, they try to cure you of the habit.

Newsagents have correspondence with Talismania, for Tattersalls.

The refusal of the Federal, Victorian and NSW governments to aim for elimination is showing how stupid these governments are. Instead of GO HARD, GO EARLY they scream that they don't want to hurt the economy, and so they GO SLOW and GO LATE.
It's criminal how they refuse to learn. Not only are people dying needlessly, the economy is suffering far more.
Just remember, if you want New Zealand to be in this position, vote National, Jacinda will never do this to you.

'But that has all come to a screaming halt, and the chaos raging in Victoria right now suggests hopes of allowing travel between Australia and here as soon as September were utterly fanciful' - wow ! There's as big an example of 2020 hindsight masquerading as opinion as I've ever seen. Well done you.

Right on. They have been part of the shouting to open the borders for the sake of "the economy". Why not listen to the views of the majority? We do not want to go back into lockdown, so keep the borders locked down. Sure, this will hurt, but the alternative is a hell of a lot more painful.

New Zealand has a fairly healthy population, but we have almost zero herd immunity. It’s only going to take one person to break ranks when coming into the country and we could be right back where they started in a flash. So we posted a great-sounding number, but it seems to be printed on a house of cards.

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