Which New Zealand newspaper should I read?
Flight JQ201 took off from Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport at 7.17 a.m. local time, one hour late. The passengers on board the plane of the Australian low-cost airline Jetstar could still be happy. Because when they got out a good three hours later in the New Zealand metropolis of Auckland, they were allowed to rush through a specially set up "green zone" from the baggage claim directly to the taxis - without being admitted to a quarantine hotel for 14 days.
They were the first international travelers allowed to come to New Zealand without having to isolate themselves since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed the island nation's borders a year ago to keep the corona virus out. And they weren't alone. About three dozen passenger jets took off this Monday in Australian cities to fly over the Tasman Sea to the smaller neighboring country.
New Zealand's quarantine obligation is now only lifted for travelers who come from Australia - and have been there for at least 14 days. Since travelers from New Zealand have been allowed to travel in the opposite direction to Australia for six months without having to go through the quarantine that is otherwise mandatory for newcomers, both neighboring countries are now forming a kind of travel bubble within which the otherwise very strict corona entry restrictions do not apply .
This is the consequence of the successes of the pandemic policy in both countries. New Zealand, praised worldwide as a model country in the fight against corona, has only recorded around 2,600 cases and 26 Covid deaths since the outbreak of the epidemic. In Australia, the epidemic was temporarily out of control during the southern hemisphere winter, especially in the cooler four million city of Melbourne. But here, too, it was mild in international comparison: a total of 30,000 people have been infected in Australia so far, 910 have died of Covid. In a whole year, that was only half as many corona deaths as were registered in Germany on January 19, 2021, the blackest epidemic day so far, in just 24 hours.
Strict lockdowns, tough foreclosure. The island location helps here
Two measures are considered to be the reason for this success: strict isolation from the outside and strict and, above all, fast lockdowns. Both countries benefit from being washed by the sea. People only come into the country via ports and airports. This allows a strict control of the immigrants, as it would not be possible in Germany with its tens of thousands of commuters and trucks that cross the borders every day.
New Zealand and Australia quickly closed their borders a year ago. Entry was only allowed to its own residents. And almost all of them had to be quarantined in strictly guarded hotels or abandoned barracks in the isolated outback for 14 days before they were actually allowed into the country. The authorities reacted to outbreaks outside of the sealed off quarantine accommodations with strict lockdowns, including a mask requirement and the closure of all non-essential shops.
And they were quick to respond. In Western Australia, a single Covid case was enough for local Prime Minister Mark McGowan at the end of January to lock the two million city of Perth into lockdown for five days. The voters liked the severity: In the state elections two weeks later, McGowan's Labor Party won 53 out of 59 seats, the highest election victory in Australia's history. In the other federal states, too, the country leaders resisted the pressure of the liberal-conservative federal government to loosen up prematurely. The success: Today Australians have long been jostling again maskless in restaurants, pubs and shops - even though the vaccination program is making slow progress compared to Germany and is far behind the goals of the federal government.
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