Trans-Tasman bubble: Pressure builds to open border to Australia, Japan next in line

The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand now have all the details they need to ensure a safe trans-Tasman bubble. 

Opening the bubble can't come soon enough for New Zealand - and especially Queenstown, a region facing some disastrous unemployment numbers. 

You could hear a pin drop at Auckland International Airport today - a marked change from pre-COVID-19 days, when around 150 flights arrived and departed from the terminal per day.

On Friday afternoon, there were just two on the departure board - but the resumption of flights across the Tasman would change that. 

"We are very keen to see that happen as soon as practical," says Scott Tasker, Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group Co-Chair.

The blueprint for safe travel between the two countries is now safely in the hands of both Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern. 

Forty experts have spent the past three weeks working out what a safe travel zone would look like.

"The goal we had was to submit a set of recommendations to the two governments that would manage the risks of the potential of transmission between the two countries and remove the need for the 14-day quarantine period," Tasker said.

Opening the border to Australia couldn't come fast enough for the Queenstown Lakes District. 

A new report from economic think-tank Infometrics found 8000 jobs could be lost in the coming year, and opening a trans-tasman bubble could save nearly 1000 of those.

National Leader Todd Muller was in the region on Friday, announcing plans for a $100 million accelerator grant which would be available to tourism businesses looking to do new things to keep the doors open.

"It is directly focused on partnering with tourist operators to co-fund the development of tourist products that will drive demand in areas such a Queenstown and the whole country," he said.

It's hoped Australia will be the first of many low-risk countries New Zealand can create a travel bubble with, but Japan is the latest in the queue.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is speaking to his Japanese counterpart about the possibility of reopening travel between the two nations.

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