Australia’s Borders May Remain Closed Until 2022May 25th, 2021
The Australian government is doing its best to prepare Australians for the possibility that the country’s borders may stay closed until late 2022. Although the COVID-19 vaccination is already underway in Australia and the rest of the world, travel restrictions may last longer. With two new community transmission cases of COVID-19 in Sydney, New Zealand has already suspended flights from the city for 48 hours.
Australia’s politicians are concerned about the safety of their fellow citizens. Given the global pandemic, they believe it is crucial for necessary precautions to be taken, regardless of certain inconveniences.
Speaking on the possible further delay with The Australian, Australian Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said, “Given uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of COVID, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness, these are all considerations that mean we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.”
However, earlier in April, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison disclosed that he supported the policy that would allow vaccinated Australians to travel internationally without a mandatory quarantine period. “This is what I’ve tasked the medical experts with, is ensuring that we can know when an Australian is vaccinated here with their two doses, is able to travel overseas and return without having to go through hotel quarantine,” Mr. Morrison said.
Australia’s Defense Minister Peter Dutton supported the Prime Minister’s view, saying, “If people have had properly recognized the vaccine, if they are living in London or the United States or anywhere else in the world and they want to come back home and see family or see their grandparents, bring their newborn grandchild back home, then we want to facilitate that as quickly as possible.”
A further extension of travel restriction would be bad for business for airlines that operate in Australia. Many airlines were already gearing up for a revival of air travel, but such plans may have to be reconsidered. The country’s flag carrier, Qantas, has halted its international flights for a while and has already scheduled the resumption of most of its international services for October 31. However, if the delay becomes official, their planes will remain grounded. So far, Qantas loses about US$ 3.9 million every week.