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What travellers should know about the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Want to get back to travelling in the safest way possible? Thanks to low rates of COVID-19 in both Australia and New Zealand, a trans-Tasman travel bubble is likely to be created to allow for safe travel to resume between both countries.

Before you can start planning your trip, here’s what you should know about travelling across the Tasman Sea in 2020.

In this article, you will find:

  1. What is the trans-Tasman travel bubble?
  2. How would the trans-Tasman travel bubble work?
  3. When is the trans-Tasman travel bubble likely to open?
  4. Will it be safe for me to travel within the trans-Tasman travel bubble?
  5. How should I prepare for an upcoming trip within the trans-Tasman travel bubble?
  6. What should I do if I return home after travelling in the travel bubble and I feel sick?
  7. Will other countries join the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble in future?
  8. How will domestic travel change because of COVID-19?
  9. How will international travel because of COVID-19?
  10. What will be the environmental benefits of the trans-Tasman travel bubble?
  11. What will be the economic benefits of the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

What is the Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble?

#1. What is the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble is the name given to the proposed travel zone between Australia and New Zealand, which will allow people to move freely between the two countries once it’s officially put in place.

As a result of the low rates of COVID-19 cases in both countries, the Australian and New Zealand governments are working together to create this safe zone to allow people to resume travel between their international borders.

“The proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble will allow Australian travellers freedom of entry into New Zealand for holidays and business purposes,” says Cover-More Travel Insurance CEO for APAC, Judith Crompton.

“If approved by both governments, travellers moving between Australia and New Zealand will not be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This will allow them to be free to enjoy their trip from the moment they set foot at their destination. Travellers within this proposed safe zone also won’t be required to quarantine when they arrive home, which provides complete flexibility and freedom after a trip is completed.”

“The travel bubble initiative would provide anyone who wants to travel internationally with a safe, low-risk option to do so,” says Judith Crompton.

#2. How would the trans-Tasman travel bubble work?

The proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble would operate as a corridor for travel between the two countries located either side of the Tasman Sea: Australia and New Zealand. Once restrictions are lifted, it will allow residents to travel between the two countries for holidays, for business reasons, and to visit friends and family. This allows travellers within the bubble to start their trip as soon as they arrive and get back to their day-to-day life upon returning home, without mandatory quarantine periods.

The idea of trans-Tasman travel bubble is attractive because it’s a contained environment where both governments can put in place the same level of health and safety regulations to help keep people protected. For example, social distancing and maximum capacity requirements for local attractions, cleaning regulations for public accommodation, and medical testing and contact-tracing requirements will be mirrored in both countries.

“Through the partnering of the Australian and New Zealand governments, travellers within the proposed low-risk travel bubble can be comforted by the extra precautions that will be put in place while still experiencing the freedom of movement we all know and love,” says Judith Crompton.

#3. When is the trans-Tasman travel bubble likely to open?

The Australian Government has indicated that re-instating travel between Australia and New Zealand is a key priority and should occur shortly after the internal Australian border restrictions are eased.

Currently, the opening date of the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble is unknown as a result of some Australian state borders remaining closed.

When borders open, there could be a possibility that the trans-Tasman travel bubble may initially be introduced as a trial from smaller airports e.g. Canberra and Wellington. Flights may also be limited at first with a minimum number of passengers required each time to ensure a viable capacity for airlines.

When trans-Tasman travel is possible, it will be widely publicised and notified on the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website.

#4. Will it be safe for me to travel within the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

You should always follow relevant government health and safety precautions when travelling internationally, and those same precautions apply when travelling in the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble.

In order to keep yourself safe from contracting coronavirus and developing COVID-19, it’s best to follow the same hygiene standards you’ve been following at home during the global pandemic. This includes:

  • frequently and thoroughly washing your hands
  • using hand sanitiser when water and soap is not available
  • coughing or sneezing into your arm instead of your hand
  • avoiding direct contact with people by complying with social distancing practices
  • wearing a protective face mask
  • not travelling if you’re sick or showcasing known COVID-19 symptoms.

Many airlines and travel providers also will be undertaking additional safety measures to ensure public spaces are as hygienic and COVID-safe as possible when travel resume.

“The proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble is being created to allow travel between two countries that have both implemented measures to flatten the curve and now have extremely low rates of COVID-19 infection as a result,” says Cover-More Travel Insurance Chief Medical Officer Dr Stephen Rashford.

“This, together with a high level of attention to basic infection prevention practices like good hygiene and social distancing, will help ensure everyone can feel safe as they get back to travelling for enjoyment and business.”

#5. How should I prepare for an upcoming trip within the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

As a result of COVID-19, preparing for an international trip in 2020 and beyond will require a little extra effort to ensure everything goes smoothly, especially if you are in a high-risk health category.

“If you do have suffer from any existing medical conditions, we recommend you speak with your doctor in advance of your trip,” advises Dr Stephen Rashford. “They will help advise if you need to consider current world events and your level of vulnerability relating to COVID-19 before booking your getaway, and also to ensure you’re equipped with any relevant medication for the duration of your trip if you’re given the green light to travel.”

Prior to departing, it’s also important to ensure you’re adequately protected against unforeseen incidents.

“Double check that your travel insurance policy covers your existing health conditions before you leave home,” says Dr Stephen Rashford. “If you’re adequately protected, you can relax and enjoy your holiday without worrying about how you will manage should an unexpected health issue arise.”

It’s also recommended to check and confirm all the details of your trip with your booking agent, airline or transport provider, and your accommodation provider close to your departure date. The Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website is also a valuable resource for up-to-date information on the security status of your destination within the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

#6. What should I do if I return home after travelling in the travel bubble and I feel sick?

In a COVID-19 world, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to certain health symptoms upon arriving home after travelling, even if you’re travelling within the proposed travel bubble.

“If you are unwell in any way, please immediately seek medical care soon after you return home,” says Dr Stephen Rashford. “It is important to rule out COVID-19 as soon as possible, as this disease can present with many different symptoms, not just acute respiratory illness and fever.”

Before visiting your local clinic, always call ahead to advise them of your symptoms and travel history. This is to help ensure staff and other patients are protected from suspected COVID-19 patients should you need to visit the doctor’s clinic.

Dr Stephen Rashford also advises that “all health concerns are important, even during this global pandemic, so don’t be afraid to seek medical advice if you need it. Do not delay the diagnosis of other conditions.”

#7. Will other countries join the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble in future?

Other parts of the world are already starting to discuss the possibility of creating their own versions of the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble in order to help kickstart the global travel industry.

Over the coming weeks and months, we could see more countries with low rates of COVID-19 agreeing to implement and sustain certain health and safety measures in order to create their own ‘travel bubbles’ or ‘air bridges’.

For example, a likely ‘bubble’ may emerge between South Korea, Japan and Singapore with other bubbles in Europe between Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, and also between Denmark and Norway.

When it comes to expanding the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble, it’s possible that the Pacific Island nations could be the first to join the Australia and New Zealand bubble. This is because these nations—such as Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu—are currently self-contained and many have not been impacted by COVID-19.

“As nations continue to flatten the curve and work together to minimise the impact of COVID-19, we would like to see the expansion the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble to include additional destinations such as the Pacific Islands, if the Australian and New Zealand Governments believe it is safe to do so,” explains Judith Crompton. “This will enable many of those living in the Pacific region to travel more frequently and more widely for both business and leisure.”

#8. How will domestic travel change because of COVID-19?

Coronavirus, and the resulting disease of COVID-19, has changed the way we go about our daily lives and where and how we are able to travel.

The health and safety measures implemented during the global pandemic such as social distancing, enhanced cleaning practices for transport and accommodation providers and limits on numbers of people allowed in enclosed spaces—will likely remain in place even after Australian state borders reopen.

However, they won’t prevent us from being able to rediscover our own country. In fact, domestic tourism will be an essential part of Australia’s recovery from the economic impact of coronavirus and the bushfires that ravaged our country earlier in the year.

Find out more about our domestic travel cover.

#9. How will international travel change because of COVID-19?

Like domestic travel, international travel will continue to change as the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and adapts to a ‘safer normal’.

If the rates of COVID-19 continue to flatten, international travel may continue to expand beyond the proposed travel bubble our government wants to create with New Zealand to include other overseas destinations that Australians love to visit.

However, this will depend largely on the rates of coronavirus infections and COVID-19 cases dropping across the world, plus the development of a vaccine or cure to help combat the virus.

For more information on international travel restrictions, monitor Smart Traveller for up-to-date advice.

#10. What will be the environmental benefits of the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

In recent years, travellers across the globe have shown a keen interest in how to indulge their love of travel while also travelling in a more sustainable or ‘greener’ fashion.

That said, if there’s one positive to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s this: the environment has shown many signs of recovery from our break in activity. Planes have been grounded, trains have come to a halt, and cars are missing from the road. All of this inaction has lowered the world’s carbon footprint, and travellers want to help minimise their damage when travel resumes.

In comparison to most international destinations, travel within the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble requires a relatively short flight. This results in travellers supporting the push for greener tourism by generating a lower carbon footprint while still fulfilling their love of travel.

New Zealand also has some of the world’s best natural and protected landscapes, and because of this, has supported and promoted greener tourism for years. To help reduce the stress placed on its natural resources and areas of interest, limitations on how many people can be at many attractions and places at any one time were in place prior to COVID-19 regulations.

So, if you’re visiting New Zealand once borders open, why not ask the local guides and travel experts about their sustainable tourism industry? You may even be able to apply their green travel tips to future getaways beyond the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble.

#11. What will be the economic benefits of the trans-Tasman travel bubble?

Travel between Australia and New Zealand has always been popular, and the annual tourist numbers contribute toward a large proportion of both national economies as a result. But resuming travel between the two countries won’t only help their GDPs, it will also allow travellers to support small, local businesses in both nations.

Whether tourists are travelling to isolated destinations in Australia ravaged by the bushfires or flying ‘across the ditch’ to indulge in some of New Zealand’s famous local delicacies, the tourism dollar will be more than welcomed after months of lockdown and social restrictions should the travel bubble go ahead.

“Travel is a wonderful way to enjoy yourself, but it also undoubtably changes the lives of those working in the hospitality and tourism industry by helping them to remain open and allowing them to share their unique offering with more travellers,” says Judith Crompton.

“Our local tourism industry, and our partners in New Zealand, rely heavily on the tourism dollar to keep them operating. Whatever we can do in the coming months and years to help ensure they not only survive but also thrive will benefit generations to come.”

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