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Morning Briefing April 19: Trans-Tasman bubble officially opens after months of waiting

Separated families and friends will be reuniting and overseas holidays have begun again as New Zealand and Australia's Covid-19 bubble officially kicks off today, with the first flight carrying crew members only touching down just after midnight.

Flight into Sydney, Australia. Source: istock.com

The bubble is a move which comes more than a year after borders around the world snapped shut.

However, yesterday Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand expected to fly about 10,000 people on trans-Tasman routes today alone.

The bubble arrangement means no quarantine for passengers, but travellers have been warned if new coronavirus cases emerge the bubble could temporarily come to a halt, potentially stranding those abroad.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be speaking about the bubble, as well as other issues on Breakfast shortly after 7am.

'Not good enough'

In other virus news, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins admitted on Q+A yesterday that a border worker who went months withoutgetting a Covid-19 test, to then return a positive result on April 8, was "not good enough"

Hipkins says the Government is trying to standardise record-keeping systems to make tracking of testing easier and more efficient but added that at the end of the day, there's still some onus on frontline workers to get tested.

It comes as another four Covid-19 cases were yesterday found at New Zealand's border, but none in the community.

Meanwhile, around the world the pandemic continues to rage on.

The global death toll from Covid-19 topped a staggering 3 million people yesterday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

A Royal goodbye

Prince Philip was laid to rest yesterday, after he died a week prior at 99 - just two months shy of his 100th birthday. A widowed British monarch Queen Elizabeth - setting an example amid the coronavirus pandemic - sat alone at the ceremony, dressed in black and with her head bowed in prayer.

While the Duke of Edinburgh's life was honoured by those around the world, only 30 people were allowed inside Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel, including the Queen, her four children and her eight grandchildren.

Prince Harry and Prince William appeared to put their fraught relationship aside as they said goodbye to their grandfather.

The brothers were sombre and silent as they walked together in a procession behind Prince Philip’s coffin before his funeral at Windsor Castle along with their father, Prince Charles, and other close relatives.

William and Harry were seen chatting and walking together after the service concluded. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand also played a part in the duke's farewell.

Upon Prince Philip’s wishes, positioned in the Horseshoe Cloister of Windsor Castle were Commonwealth defence advisers from Canada, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand.

Go, Lydia Ko!

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko broke a three-year winless drought to take out the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii yesterday, after shooting a 7-under 65 to finish with a 7-stroke lead overall.

It is the 23-year-old's first LPGA Tour event win since 2018. But with her good run of form so far this year, the win was only a matter of time.

Ko looked unstoppable on the fourth and final day at the Kapolei golf course, shooting yet another bogey-free round and amassing seven birdies.

Breakfast’s Guy Heveldt will be speaking about the spectacular win on the show around 7.20am.

Leaky home crisis 2.0?

There are warnings New Zealand could be in for another leaky home crisis as a shortage of building materials leave some builders desperate and using any products they can get their hands on.

With worldwide shipping delays and the Suez Canal setback, importers are feeling the pain as they go short on products like laminated veneer lumber, fire retardant paint and even ladders. 

Other news of note this morning:

  • An animal rights group is pushing the Government to consider making New Zealand’s live animal export ban immediate rather than within two years.
  • A mother and daughter are having to share a bed to keep warm as their landlord flouts tenancy rules.
  • The University of Waikato has proposed cutting 12 mostly senior roles from its management school because of looming financial losses.
  • An animal rights group has slammed New Zealand's "shocking" number of animals used or bred for scientific research in the past year.
  • The World Health Organisation is urging more stringent public health measures with more Covid-19 infections and global cases are expected at the current global trajectory.
  • The mayor of Central Otago says he hopes his region will see some of the benefits of an Amazon Lord of the Rings series that has begun filming in New Zealand.
  • A Southland man has started a dog in schools movement to bring comfort to students.

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Libby Hunsdale is the first lead actor playing a role of a young woman with Down Syndrome. Source: Sunday

And finally...

Meet the Whanganui teenager who is an actress, a trainee makeup artist, a dance-lover and who also happens to have Down Syndrome. Find out more about the big project 19-year-old Libby Hunsdale is working on, which will be hitting screens soon here.