There is disappointment in store for those hoping to travel in or out of Australia this year, as its government is warning that borders are unlikely to reopen for international travel until 2022.
Finance minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian that the country “won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.” This is due to uncertainties that exist in the speed of the vaccine rollout and the extent of vaccines’ effectiveness on different variants of COVID-19, as well as the duration of their longevity and effectiveness.
Speaking to Sky News, the minister reiterated the likelihood that the borders will stay closed for some time as global uncertainty remains. “Australians do not want us to reopen borders and risk COVID entering into this country, and risk the consequential loss of life, economic damage and loss of jobs across Australia,” he said.
The minister was speaking ahead of the handing down of the federal budget, saying that while Australia is enjoying high levels of business and consumer confidence, it is underpinned by a fragility.
The news is likely to come as a blow to the international travel industry. Australia’s flag carrier Qantas announced back in February that it was aiming to resume international flights to Australia at the end of October. However, when the announcement was made customers were promised full refunds, a free change of date or travel vouchers if their plans are disrupted by an extension of border closures.
Australians have been able to travel to New Zealand since the implementation of the trans-Tasmin travel bubble. However, quarantine-free travel from New South Wales to New Zealand has been suspended for 48 hours from from 11.59pm AEST on May 6 following the detection of two new COVID-19 cases in the community in Sydney. The trans-Tasman bubble launched on April 19 to allow quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand, and New Zealand will lift or extend the restrictions when the suspension period is over, depending on how the situation unfolds.
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