New Zealand bubble boost for Supercars

The bubble between Australia and New Zealand will come into effect at 11:59pm on April 18, with travellers able to move between the two countries without quarantine or self-isolation.

It will, however, be constantly dependant on local outbreaks on either side of the Tasman, which could lead to isolated restrictions.

A valve of sorts has been in place for several months, with several Australia states allowing quarantine-free entry for people arriving from New Zealand. However until now it hasn’t been a reciprocal arrangement.

The bubble reflects the similar approach taken to fight the global pandemic from the two countries, which have both used their isolated geography to pursue a quasi-elimination strategy.

That’s seen tough measures on both international and even internal borders in cases of outbreaks, as well as strict lockdowns for even the smallest of instances of community transmission.

As a result there have been just 909 virus-related deaths in Australia, most of which came from the second wave in Melbourne midway through last year, and 26 virus-related deaths in NZ.

“Cabinet was presented with advice today that conditions for opening up quarantine-free travel with Australia had been met,” said NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

“The Director-General of Health considers the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from Australia to New Zealand to now be low, and that quarantine-free travel would be safe to commence.

“This is an exciting day. The trans-Tasman travel bubble represents a start of a new chapter in our Covid response and recovery, one that people have worked so hard for.

“That makes New Zealand and Australia relatively unique. I know family, friends and significant parts of our economy will welcome it, as I know I certainly do.”

The bubble will come as a huge relief for Supercars, which is set to race in Auckland on November 6-7 this year.

It could also help Supercars land on the Australian Grand Prix undercard should Australia’s borders allow the event to go ahead on its postponed November 19-21 date. A risk of needing to quarantine for two weeks after the trip to Auckland would have complicated the category’s inclusion in the AGP.

It’s yet to be decided which circuit will host Supercars this season, with the event currently listed as the Auckland SuperSprint.

Traditionally the category races at Pukekohe, located on the outskirts of the Auckland local government region, as financial backing comes from Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development.

However a scheduling conflict saw the planned 2020 event moved to Hampton Downs, in neighbouring Waikato, before it was abandoned entirely due to the pandemic.

Supercars is yet to formally commit to either a Pukekohe return or a first appearance at Hampton Downs this year.

More to follow.

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