The announcement that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on April 19 has understandably sent shivers of excitement through our sectors suffering from severe ostracisation.
It's not an instant fix but it does provide some certainty for planning a way out of this stall and nosedive, particularly for hospitality and tourism operators. Aussies made up 40 per cent of our international guests pre-Covid, spending $2.7b in 2019.
Travellers will have to bear the potential costs in mind. Should an outbreak occur, they may be locked down where they are, or borders closed to prevent their return. For this reason, among others, many in the traditional tourist trade are likely to take a wait-and-see stance for a time.
Only those who can afford to be locked in another location for an indefinite period, and perhaps able to work remotely, will consider the recreational rewards worth the risk.
Rather than a torrent of tourists then, there is more likely to be a steady flow of family and dear friends reunited. There are many extended whānau with households on both sides of the Tasman and these have been particularly anxious times, especially for those with elderly or ailing relatives.
The heartstrings will pull these people to traverse the bubble much more so than the need to ski or rest up in our verdant isles.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says: "One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been the separation from friends and family who live in Australia."
"The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world-leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out."
All this is true, although so too is the fact that the virus continues to pepper our shields, as exemplified by a dozen arrivals from India, confirmed yesterday as testing positive.
It's also true that we cannot wait for herd immunity. Even with it's incredible pace reaching a record-breaking four million vaccinations in one day recently, the US is still forecast to take until New Year's 2022 to near herd immunity.
It is becoming increasingly apparent our vaccination rollout is lacklustre, with New Zealand being one of only a few OECD countries without a target for how many adults should be vaccinated. Almost all countries are setting a vaccination target – usually 70 per cent of the adult population – and a date for achieving it. But not, so far, New Zealand.
Even when reaching the perceived salvation of massed vaccination, there are still good reasons for caution and heightened wariness.
One new coronavirus variant sweeping through Brazil, and spreading to other nations around the world, is proving to be up to three times more deadly for young people, according to research.
It is also spreading more quickly among younger people with cases among Brazilians in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are up by 565 per cent, 626 per cent and 525 per cent respectively since the beginning of January, according to Brazilian public health institute Fiocruz.
Any delight at yesterday's announcement must be tempered with common sense, we are still far from returning to life as we knew it pre-Covid.