Like neighbor New Zealand, Australia was out early with the bad news. The message: don’t expect any international travel until there’s a vaccine, or significant improvement in the global covid-19 landscape.
Australia stunned the world in August, with the bold announcement that international travel was unlikely to return until Spring of 2021, but now it appears the much loved Pacific country is signaling an even longer delay to travel and tourism reboots.
Australia Largely Closed Off Until Late Next Year
In August, Qantas removed all international flights from its schedule through March 2021, dashing hopes of PM Scott Morrison’s aim to reboot at least some international travel by December holidays. Australia’s primary concern was reopening limited travel domestically, and with trading partner New Zealand.
Now, those glimmers of hope for an early 2021 international trip are being quashed, with fresh statements from Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, stating plainly that Australia will “largely remain closed off until next year”, according to reports from the National Press Club.
You’ll have to get your flat whites somewhere else, for now.
Availability of a covid-19 vaccine appears to be a key hurdle, which without, Australia will refuse to widely open borders to international arrivals. No vaccines have received regulatory approval to date, and vaccines candidates are only expected to deliver 30-60% effectiveness, much like other vaccines, according to the Lancet.
“International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time, and a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget,”Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer, Australia
Australia long awaited and recently opened trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand may be a lifeline for now, but may also become another key issue down the line.
New Zealand is in a steadfast pursuit of entire eradication of covid-19, which makes Australia’s chances of maintaining that bubble, while enticing new international travel partners a virtual non starter. New Zealand would likely sever bubble ties if Australia were to welcome visitors from countries with higher infection rates.
Australians are currently welcome in many countries, including those within the European Union, and Singapore, but citizens unwilling to quarantine for 14 days at an expense of $3000AUD in a government facility are unable to travel at all. Even then, a government exemption is still required. Limited flights due to the international travel shutdown only further complicate the matter.
Sad Times For Australia Travel
The news is unfortunate, particularly as other countries begin to signal potential dates for wider reopening to tourists and international travelers. Japan recently announced hopes to welcome international tourist visitors by April 2021, ahead of wide arrivals expected for the postponed 2020 Olympic Games. The 2020 Olympic Games are now scheduled to take place in July and August, 2021.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Americas, Middle East, Africa and Asia, countries are taking more scientific risk based approaches to reopening travel, demanding recent negative covid-19 tests before flight, and many countries are also insisting upon a second test after arrival.
Recent studies suggest double testing, with a second test taken 7 days after arrival is capable of catching 100% of covid-19 cases, or a figure very close to that number.
It may be a while before you can have that next flat white in Melbourne, beer on Bondi, delicious farm to table dining in Adelaide or catch a wave in Queensland. It’s too bad, because Australia is only like the best destination in the world.