Hopes of quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia have been dealt a blow by an Australian minister who says its borders may remain locked down until next year.
While New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is maintaining his stance a travel bubble could easily be established, Australia's Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has warned travellers not to get their hopes up.
Birmingham told the National Press Club it is "more likely" Australians will be banned from overseas travel until 2021, unless under special exemptions for limited business travel and on compassionate grounds, news.com.au reports.
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There had been hopes of a bubble being established perhaps as early as September and an expert panel has delivered a report to governments on both sides of the Tasman on how it believes it could be done safely.
The scheme would not work with the existing 14-day quarantine requirements but the return of Australian visitors would be a boon for this country's hard-hit tourist sector which for now must rely on the domestic market.
Struggling airlines are also eager to resume operations across the Tasman with Air New Zealand and Qantas now flying just a handful of services to repatriate nationals.
As the Government is doing in this country, Birmingham urged Australians to support local tourism operators and had bad news for those wanting to travel overseas.
"I do, sadly, think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off, just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first."
In this country, the Opposition says the case of two women coming from Britain and now Covid-19 positive would lead to an inevitable delay.
But on RNZ, Peters said the bubble hasn't been jeopardised after a quarantine blunder allowed the pair to travel out of an isolation hotel.
"These two New Zealanders came out of the UK, a very Covid-troubled country, and we're dealing with Covid safe states," Peters said.
However, National Party leader Todd Muller said while the Government was yet to set clear criteria for when travel between the two countries could resume, the bungled case meant it was not going to happen any time soon.
"It makes the opportunity to connect with Australia further away, the opportunity to connect with international students less likely, and the tens of thousands of New Zealanders whose jobs will be at risk know that to be true."