Australia is a country on the verge of excellence in grappling with the covid-19 global pandemic, but excellence comes with a cost. For now, that cost is closed international travel borders, perhaps for quite some time.
After nearly achieving results which would’ve opened up the gateway for a “trans-Tasman” travel between Australia and New Zealand, unexpected spikes arose in Victoria and New South Wales, quashing hopes of near term travel, and now, for the rest of the world, the news is even worse.
No International Travel For 2020?
At an August 10th press conference, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, dashed hopes for a return of international travel to Australia anytime soon. His remarks were widely expected in the media, after Qantas preemptively removed most international flights through March of 2021.
In speaking on the possibility of reopening international travel borders this year, PM Morrison noted…
“I would welcome if by Christmas it were possible, but I think it’s unlikely that we will be able to move back to a restriction-free society, doubt that is going to happen, and I doubt the medical situation will enable it. It’s important that we just look, test and interrogate the medical evidence and make decisions based on that and nothing else,”Scott Morrison, Australian PM
Hopes for early 2021 aren’t looking too good either.
According to Executive Traveller, notes in Australian federal budget proposals suggest international travel may once again be possible from January 1st, 2021, but not without 14 days of quarantine. 14 days in a government controlled facility is a period of time very few travellers can afford, particularly with the mandatory costs of circa $3000 for the quarantine period alone.
Air Bridges And Fizzling Travel Bubbles
As to hopes for international travel bubbles between Australia and New Zealand known as the “trans-Tasman Bubble”, those hopes are also officially on the “back burner” as well, according to Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand PM.
The PM, reacting to recent covid-19 spikes across Victoria and New South Wales, used no uncertain terms to express New Zealand’s complete lack of interest in any near term travel proposals.
“The trans-Tasman bubble, obviously not anytime soon, it will be on the backburner for several months.”Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand PM
New Zealand isn’t taking a return to international travel lightly. The country demands at least 28 days without community transmission before the possibility of an air bridge will even be considered, and few countries are up to the task.
Vietnam was seen as a likely air bridge for the country, after 99 reported days without community transmission, only for a case in Danang to bring on unforeseen spikes in July which dashed those hopes as well.
When Asia and Pacific does open up, it’s likely to first be exclusive to countries in APAC, and may be quite a while before those in Europe or the Americas are invited along.
Air Bridges, travel corridors and travel bubbles are still under discussion among key trading partners throughout Asia, with early efforts including business travel between Japan and Vietnam, as well as South Korea and China. The success of these air bridges, or lack thereof, will no doubt pave the way for any reopening.
If Australia and New Zealand are on the bucket list, keep them there – they’re totally worth it – but perhaps move down the list just a bit, at least for the next year. Estimates from NZ insiders suggest 2021 isn’t even a safe bet, yet, and Australia may not be far off.