TODAY |

Ardern throws cold water on opening borders, including to Australia - 'I do think it's dangerous'

Opening the border is dangerous, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today as the possibility of an immediate trans-Tasman bubble with Australia seemed to extend further out of reach.

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The PM say the coronavirus pandemic is only growing overseas, and opening our borders early risks undoing our sacrifice to date. Source: 1 NEWS

"While the EU is looking to open its doors to a handful of countries including our own, I'm reminded New Zealanders returning from trips offshore were part of the spread of the virus in New Zealand in the first place," Ms Ardern said. 

The European Union named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from July 1, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Japan.

But Ms Ardern said opening borders here could see the "hard won gains" of reducing Covid-19 squandered and the price could be a second wave.

"First and foremost we are trying to preserve a Covid-free position while getting our economy moving," she said. 

It comes after National leader Todd Muller called for more clarification around the criteria of the trans-Tasman bubble and a Pacific bubble, and that a completely closed border or the next 12-18 months was "simply untenable". Mr Muller had not called for the immediate opening of the border. 

Mr Muller said yesterday he was "just making it very clear a shambolic internal border and a strategy that says we stay completely closed to everybody for the next 12-18 months is simply untenable". 

"We won't recognise this country in terms of economic impact if that is our reality in 12-18 months' time."

Recent border failures included two people who tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling down to Wellington from Auckland before being tested, and a number of people having left managed isolation without undergoing tests. 

Today in Parliament, Ms Ardern said she had been "very open" about the criteria for opening the border to other countries.

That included requirements that a nation be free of community transmission, there is an ability to rapidly contact trace and a rapid turnaround of testing. 

"I do think it is dangerous to open up our borders at this point in time."

On the possibility of the trans-Tasman bubble, Ms Ardern said it was contingent on there being no community transmission in Australia - with the decision to either open it state-by-state or as an entire country one that Australia itself will have to make. 

Victoria has recorded 75 cases in the last 24 hours

"The idea we would open up the entire nation right now is out of step."

Ms Ardern also said today that four new managed isolation facilities were set to open, as New Zealand expects 2751 arrivals this week. 

"These steps are consistent with our plan to ramp up capacity," she said.