.Trans Tasman rivalry like yesterday's NZ win in the Constellation Cup might soon turn to hands across the ocean as the bubble with Australia gets closer,.

There were more hints from the Government yesterday that a travel bubble with Australia is getting closer.

However the statement from Covid-19 response Minister, Chris Hipkins, came just hours before an Air New Zealand hostess who had flown in from Japan tested positive for Covid.

Any opening up of the Tasman would be unlikely before June 17 because Australia has just extended its “Human Biosecutiry Emergency Period”

That limits travel by Australians overseas.

But QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce 10 days ago that he airline still plans to resume flights to New Zealand in July.  Joyce has also said he is close and regular contact with Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Speaking yesterday on NewstalkZB, Hipkins seemed to suggest the bubble would be established soon and referred to the Prime Minister’s promise to releae a roadmap for the future management of Covid within the next few weeks.

There will be more in there about vaccines and the vaccine rollout,” he said.

“There will be more in there about vaccines and the vaccine rollout,” he said.

“We’ve been negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies to get more certainty around what vaccines are arriving when,  so that we can release more details to the public about when people can expect a vaccine and exactly what kind of sequencing we will do in our vaccine rollout.

“So we’ll be releasing more information about this.


“I think you will see more information and more clarity for us from us over the coming weeks around things like the Trans-Tasman travel bubble; around travel around the Pacific, around potential future changes to the way we operate our border.

“So I think you’ll see some of those coming from the Prime Minister.

“And then, of course, there will be other other aspects of that, too, including the broader economic picture of what the government’s going to be doing in that space.”

Hipkins also appeared on TVOne’s “Q+A” where he offered more detail on the Trans Tasman bubble.

“As vaccines are more available internationally, as we understand what that means in terms of transmissibility of the vaccine, we could actually have quite different border settings to the ones we have now,” he said.

“Not everyone would necessarily need to go through two weeks of managed isolation, for example, which is what everybody coming into the country has to do at the moment, as we get to a position where vaccines are part of the global picture that will probably have an impact on our border as we can open up safe travel areas with other countries, Australia, the Pacific, that we will absolutely be doing that.

“And we’ve been working really closely with the Cook Islands in Australia in particular, as the first two cabs off the rank to make sure that we can get those safe travel zones opened up when we can.”

Hipkins full list of what will be in the Prime Minister’s roadmap would seem to go some of the distance towards answering the complaints of the group of business leaders who wrote last week to the prime Minister asking for more detail of what the government was doing and asking to be involved.

Hipkins said that the private sector already had some involvement in the vaccine rollout.

“We’ve got people from Fonterra, from Mainfreight, from a number of private sector companies working with us on the vaccine rollout,” he said.

“So we’re already doing some of those things.

“It doesn’t mean that every company is involved in that exercise.

“It means we are stepping in to the relevant private sector expertize so that we can make sure that we’re using that and we’re learning from that.”

But that wasn’t quite what the business leaders were on about; they were driven to write their letter as much by what some have felt was stonewalling by the Ministry of Health over taking up private sector initiatives like the saliva testing system being promoted by Rako Science.

But last night Hipkins was having to contend with another potential community outbreak in Auckland.

Health officials are waiting for genomic sequencing of tests on an Air New Zealand flight attendant who arrived from Japan on February 28 and after initially testing negative for Covid returned a positive test yesterday.

In a statement last night, the Ministry said the genomic testing would help rule out any local transmission.

But the flight attendant did visit the Auckland Airport Countdown supermarket and also a health appointment.

“The latest case was a frequent user of the (NZ Covid Tracer) app, which is aiding the public health staff to identify potential exposure events and assess any risks from their activities,” the Ministry’s statement said.

. The individual’s three household family members have already been tested today and the results are all negative.

Fourteen other air crew on the same journey as the latest case are in the process of being contacted, isolated and retested. .

the Ministry said the Public Health initial assessment was that  there was a low risk to the public due to Auckland being at Alert Level 3 for the period in which this case was back in New Zealand and were either in isolation or at home for most of that time