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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bubble burst: SA Premier delays ACT-SA travel bubble

It appears the mooted ACT-SA travel bubble won’t be taking place until there has been a fortnight without community transmission of coronavirus in NSW.

“NSW and the ACT continue to do extremely well. What we would like to see in South Australia is a period where there is no community transmission,” South Australian Premier Steven Marshall told a press conference this afternoon following today’s National Cabinet meeting.

“We’re thinking that should be around 14 days.”

The Premier however was hopeful such a bubble could exist between SA and the ACT and NSW by the start of the next school holidays, 25 September.

“ACT is not a problem, it’s NSW, but again, we are super pleased to see NSW tracking down,” he said.

Currently a “soft-border arrangement” is in place requiring 14 days of at-home self-isolation in SA for ACT and NSW residents, as opposed to a hotel quarantine.

As of 4 September, it has been more than seven weeks since a new case of COVID-19 was recorded in the ACT, while no community transmission has been recorded here to date.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr put forward a travel bubble request to state and territory leaders at today’s National Cabinet.

He said a Canberra and Adelaide bubble would be the most likely.

“From here we intend to work with the South Australian Government and potentially with the Northern Territory Government if there is aviation interest in Canberra to Darwin flights,” he said.

“In the meantime, we believe Canberra to Adelaide is the most viable to have that safe city pair domestic travel arrangement.”

Mr Barr said SA would consider his proposal next week.

“Ultimately this is a decision for the South Australian Government to confirm they will accept residents from the ACT without a two-week quarantine requirement,” he said.

“We’re ready to go and we look to partner with Adelaide and potentially Darwin in the first instance and if that works, well then I think there are opportunities for Canberra and Hobart and Canberra and Brisbane.”

Commonwealth Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja yesterday said he’d had “pretty productive conversations” with Mr Marshall on the possibility of an ACT-SA travel bubble.

He stated his preference would be for SA borders to open to both the ACT and NSW, but that a strictly ACT-SA bubble would be workable too.

“I did make the point … even if they baulk in the coming days at opening up to NSW, that it is safe, and it is possible to do it between Canberra and South Australia.

“In the absence of a decision in relation to NSW, I don’t want Canberra to be held back and treated as just a part of NSW … we could make this work.”

Canberra Airport head of aviation, Michael Thomson, said opening travel between Canberra and South Australia would be a good “incremental” step to restarting tourism in both jurisdictions.

“There is significant demand for flights from business in ACT and South Australia, and there is also significant tourism demand and a strong desire to visit friends and relatives in our two regions,” he said.

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