Don't bank on trans-Tasman bubble reopening soon - Hipkins

Anna Whyte
Source: 1 NEWS

The timeframe of the trans-Tasman bubble suspension will be scrutinised by Cabinet next week. 

The arrivals area at Auckland Airport

Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins told media on Wednesday decisions would be made around the suspended bubble in the coming week.

"My clear message to people in Australia is that I wouldn't be banking on the trans-Tasman bubble reopening anytime soon."

"We just don't have certainty around the bubble at this point."

The entire bubble was cut off by New Zealand in July, as Australia dealt with its Delta outbreak and surging Covid cases after ongoing and numerous pauses. Australia has also extended its pause on quarantine-free flights from New Zealand and is set to review it again next week. 

Cabinet would decide whether it would extend the suspension - "and I think that is likely", Hipkins said. 

"We will have answers to that within the next week or so."

When asked if it were an option for there to be no bubble with Australia for the remainder of the year, Hipkins said it was, "certainly possible". 

He said the reopening of the bubble soon was a "pretty unlikely prospect".

"People can see what is happening in Australia and what we are still grappling with in New Zealand."

It was announced today that new MIQ spots would resume from Monday - but not for travellers from Australia.

"We are planning another voucher release in September which we do expect people from Australia will be able to access," Hipkins said. 

Hipkins said he was not signalling that green zone flights could resume from some states.

"There's issues around flight scheduling and a whole lot of other things that need to be worked through before we can give any certainty to people in Australia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in August she was getting advice on "what to do" with the suspended bubble, which was to be reviewed late September. 

The Government was  looking into vaccine passports , testing protocols and requiring travellers to be vaccinated.