Australians hoping for an overseas holiday have had their hopes dashed, with the Tourism Minister saying the nation’s border is likely to stay closed until next year.
Simon Birmingham said the decision to shut the border was one of the main reasons for Australia’s success in suppressing COVID-19 and it would not be lifted for general travel any time soon.
“I do sadly think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off,” Senator Birmingham told the National Press Club.
“Just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first.”
Asked whether that meant the border would not open until next year, he said, “I think that is more likely the case.”
Thousands of Australians are still holding travel credits for cancelled overseas holidays with Qantas and other airline providers.
Now many of them are banking on the pending trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand to get their travel fix.
The potential trans-Tasman bubble:
Talks between Australia and New Zealand are underway about a potential trans-Tasman bubble.
The bubble could see leisure travel between Australia and NZ by September without the need for any isolation or quarantine period at either end of the journey. Passengers may still need to undergo a COVID-19 test and carry a certificate confirming they are free from the disease.
However, Birmingham suggested that business travel could also see an earlier opening than leisure travel.
“I hope that we can look eventually at some of those countries who have similar successes in suppressing the spread of COVID to Australia and New Zealand, and in working through that with those countries, find safe pathways to deal with essential business travel that helps to contribute to jobs across our economies.”
So, where can I take a holiday now?
Birmingham says people who can afford it should feel “an almost patriotic duty” to support local businesses by taking a holiday in Australia. But current travel options at the moment depend on where you live.
There are no border restrictions in either New South Wales, Victoria or the ACT.
South Australia has opened its borders to Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, with others to be welcomed from July 20.
Mandatory hotel quarantine has been dropped in the NT while Tasmania’s border closure will be revisited early next month.
Queensland has been working towards a July reopening although Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned restrictions won’t be lifted if there’s active transmission interstate.
While in WA, Premier Mark McGowan is standing firm on his decision to keep the border closed until it’s “healthy and safe” to open again.