Australia may not open its borders until late 2021, or until a Covid-19 vaccine has been approved.
The country, which is seen as a bucket list destination for many travellers, has been closed off throughout the pandemic – and it looks as though things won’t be changing any time soon.
Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer of the country, said in a press conference on Wednesday, that international restrictions will stay ‘largely closed off’ until the end of next year.
The country has worked hard to contain outbreaks of the virus by closing domestic borders between states and areas – and it hopes to open them by December. But internationally, it’s a different story.
Speaking to Australia’s National Press Club on Wednesday (7 October), Mr Frydenberg said: “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.
“We have taken every step possible to give Australia the best possible chance of getting a vaccine.
“Vaccine or not, the temporary and targeted measures in this Budget will create jobs and drive our economy.
“We know that the road out of this crisis will be unpredictable.
“We also know that this Budget outlines possible alternative upside and downside scenarios.
“We are taking nothing for granted.”
He added that re-introducing tourism to boost the economy is a priority, but it needs to be done safely, saying: “Closed borders cost jobs so the quicker those borders are open in a Covid-safe way, the better, not just for those local communities and those particular states but across the country.”
The first stage of the Trans-Tasman bubble will only allow Kiwis to fly to New South Wales and the Northern Territory, with flights thought to commence in the very near future.
Sadly, Aussies won’t be able to fly to New Zealand though – at least to start with.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said it’s an important first step to ensuring the travel relationship between New Zealand and Australia remains strong.
“This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries, not just that state and that territory,” he said.
“This will allow New Zealanders and other residents in New Zealand who have not been in an area designated as a Covid-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the preceding 14 days to travel quarantine-free.”
For the rest of us, though, it looks like there’s a far longer wait in store.