New Zealand 'travel bubble' likely to include Taiwan

New Zealand could soon include Taiwan in its quarantine-free travel zone

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Air New Zealand aircraft. 

Air New Zealand aircraft.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan could soon be among the countries New Zealand includes in its "travel bubble," which would allow people to fly quarantine-free.

On Tuesday (May 5), New Zealand and Australia announced their plans to create a "trans-Tasman travel bubble" to enable travelers to fly between the two countries without the need to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The idea is that considering the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) has been largely brought under control in the two countries, a special air corridor could be created so travelers can fly more freely, which would help revive tourism and commerce.

Australia's flag carrier Qantas is hoping to participate in the bubble once its domestic flights resume. The BBC cited the airline's chief executive, Alan Joyce, as saying that once the bubble gets online, other countries that have managed to contain the virus could join as well: "If the New Zealand bubble idea gets traction and that we're comfortable with that and that seems like it's working well, then a similar approach could be done with markets where countries have Covid-19 under control."

Chris Roberts, chief executive of New Zealand's tourist board Tourism Industry Aotearoa, told the news agency that the corridor would need to employ high safety standards and advanced technology to take off. Given that there is a great deal of trade with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and that many have also managed to contain the outbreak, Roberts listed other "neighbors" that could be added to the bubble, including "Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea."

Taiwan is arguably the best candidate for the bubble because it has gone 24 days without a single new local case and only sees a handful of imported cases per week, all of which are immediately quarantined and closely monitored. South Korea has managed to flatten its coronavirus curve through extensive testing, while China is a dubious choice, as it is not only the confirmed source of the pandemic but also has a track record of concealing the true number of infections and deaths from the disease.