New Zealand and Australia Won't Reopen to Most U.S. Travelers Until 2022. That's the sad news we've conveyed to clients, for whom both New Zealand and Australia are very popular destinations.
Both countries locked down quickly and hard, limiting the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Australia has banned its citizens from traveling abroad, and returning Australian citizens and permanent residents, as well as those with special exemptions, have had quarantine at one of Australia's designated quarantine hotels for two weeks, at their own expense. Similarly, New Zealand is only open to its citizens, permanent residents and limited exemptions for certain workers, who must stay in either a managed isolation facility for at least 14 days or, if believed to have been exposed to COVID-19, in a quarantine facility for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or from the date of the COVID positive test.
At time of writing, Australia has had a total of 28,848 cases and just 909 deaths, out of a population of 25.4 million, while New Zealand has had just 2315 cases and 25 deaths, out of a population of 4.9 million. Put another way, there have been fewer than 5 cases per 10,000 New Zealanders and fewer than 12 cases per 10,000 Australians. In the U.S., it's been 820 COVID-19 cases per 10,000 Americans.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has noted: that for travel to and from New Zealand to resume, New Zealand needs either “the confidence that being vaccinated means you don't pass Covid-19 on to others – and we don't know that yet – or we need enough of our population to be vaccinated and protected, that people can safely re-enter New Zealand.” New Zealand isn't expected to begin its vaccination roll-out until late March 2021, and borders likely to remain closed with the exception of repatriations and travel bubbles with Australia and certain Pacific islands.
Meanwhile, Australia's Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy shares Ardern's sentiments, that reopening will depend on how effective the vaccine is at preventing transmission. Australian airline Qantas says it will require passengers to be vaccinated, which could complicate matters for passengers that cannot be vaccinated due to an allergy to a vaccine component or health issue.
There's also the issue of younger kids: Pfizer and Moderna are running trials in older kids, ages 12-15, but there's no timeline yet on when COVID-19 vaccines will be available for younger children.
There hasn't yet been a controlled study on the extent of COVID-19 transmission by those vaccinated with even the earliest approved vaccines, such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Israel, the country that to date has vaccinated the highest percentage of its population, has noted in a recent study that out of 248,000 people who received both vaccine shots and were studied one 1 week later, only 66 had mild COVID-19 infections. There still needs to be further study to gauge the extent of transmission, including asymptomatic transmission for those who have received both vaccine doses.
Are you hoping to visit Australia or New Zealand when borders reopen?
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