Australia: International Travel for Australians Unlikely in 2021

Australia: International Travel for Australians Unlikely in 2021

Australians are unlikely to travel internationally this year, even if a large number of the population is vaccinated, Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy has said. International border could also remain closed for the rest of the year.

Professor Murphy, who was the chief medical officer at the beginning of the pandemic, said he thought the borders and mandatory hotel quarantine would remain for some time yet.

“I think that we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions, even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated. We don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus.” he further stated.

Australian Borders

Australia has some of the strictest border measures in the world. The country has closed its borders to international arrivals, in a bid to curb the importation of coronavirus cases. Only Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter under current restrictions.

At present, Australian citizens and permanent residents are not permitted to leave the country unless they apply for an exemption and must meet at least one of the following:

  • travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • travel is for your business/employer
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • you are travelling outside Australia for three months or longer
  • you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • travel is in the national interest

Arrivals in Australia, except for passengers from New Zealand, are required to complete 14-day quarantine in a designated hotel. The cost of quarantining in Australia depends on the state or territory. You may be responsible for paying all or part of the costs associated with your isolation.

Semi-Bubble with New Zealand

Currently the only country that can enter Australia for non-essential travel is New Zealand. The one way travel bubble allows New Zealanders to vacation in Australia without quarantine but does not permit Australians to visit New Zealand. 

Australia's chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly has high hopes that Australia's travel bubble with New Zealand could soon be reciprocated.

New Zealand has seen great success in stopping the spread of COVID-19 with only 2,262 confirmed cases and 25 deaths. 

Vaccination Passports

While many countries are planning to implement “vaccination passports” to facilitate the movement faster, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization Committee (WHO) has stressed that the impact of vaccines on reducing transmission is not yet known and current vaccine availability is too limited, urging countries to refrain from imposing such requirements.

WHO called on the governments not to introduce vaccination or immunity requirements as a condition of entry for international travel, as according to the organisation, there are still some uncertainties regarding the effectiveness of vaccination. 

However, the President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen has recently supported the idea to establish such a document which could be used by the EU Member States as a joint certificate to identify all persons who have been vaccinated against the Coronavirus pandemic and make their life easier.

What are your thoughts about travel this year? Are you more comfortable to travel if most of the population has been vaccinated? Talk to us in the comment section below.

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