Trans-Tasman bubble: is NZ relaxing its ‘zero risk’ approach?

Trans-Tasman bubble: is NZ relaxing its ‘zero risk’ approach? | Insurance Business New Zealand

Trans-Tasman bubble: is NZ relaxing its ‘zero risk’ approach?

The Trans-Tasman bubble has now been open and running for three weeks, and despite a spike in cases across some Australian states, ministers have said that it has “stood the test of time so far.”

New Zealand is still adopting a fairly cautious approach, and suspended quarantine-free travel from New South Wales on Thursday, May 06, for several days while the source of infection for two new cases was investigated. However, travel insurer Cover-More said this still shows a relaxation of the New Zealand government’s ‘zero risk’ policy, and is a good sign that both countries remain comfortable in the arrangement.

“The fact that we haven’t stopped flights entirely, but have suspended them for 48 hours, is a very good sign that we’re slowly becoming more comfortable with accepting more risk,” Cover-More general manager - underwriting and product NZ, Eftim Stojanov said.

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“Australia is still a relatively safe country, but we no longer seem to be adopting that ‘zero risk’ approach, and I think that coincides with the rollout of vaccinations to border workers.”

“The more vaccinations we have, the less we’re going to see of the zero-risk approach from the government,” he explained. “It adds to the range of tools they can use to battle the pandemic, and the vaccinations will certainly be the predominant tool in that regard.”

Although uncertainty around border closures still lingers, Stojanov said that the decisions made by both countries so far have outlined a willingness to work within the parameters of the agreement, without suspending the bubble when cases arise.

He said that although travellers may still feel cautious, the trial run for the bubble - the first of this scale in the world - seems to be going well.

“I think the uncertainty will affect traveller confidence, but the fact that we haven’t cut flights and we haven’t locked down against New South Wales for two weeks is a good sign,” Stojanov said.

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“I don’t think we’re being reckless in this either. I think the government is still being quite cautious, and it’s within the framework of what Jacinda Ardern originally announced - but only towards the countries that are considered safe, like Australia and the Cook Islands.”

“This bubble is still a very limited experiment,” he added.

“It will help some businesses, but it won’t mean the difference between a business prospering or going down. But it’s a positive message, and I think that, overall, what is happening is so far very good.”