Australia International Travel Update: Gradual Opening Starting Sometime In 2022?

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Deloitte released a study in April (access here). The consultancy predicted Australia’s border and quarantine requirement to stay in place for far longer than first thought, and that indeed appears to be the case.

Any hope of the country opening late this year is crushed by the delayed vaccine roll out and expectancy that the pandemic is under control worldwide before lifting controls.

Here’s an excerpt from the Australian about the delayed rollout:

The federal government initially set a target that every Australian would be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October, and major airlines such as Qantas based their relaunching of international services around that timeline.

However, supply issues and concerns about the risk of rare blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine in those younger than 50 prompted the government to abandon any immunisation deadline.

Perhaps sometime in 2022:

Senator Birmingham said international borders could remain shut well into 2022.

“We recognise that if Australians want to be kept safe and secure … and 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,”

And even when it begins in 2022, it is likely “bubbles” with some countries first, according to The Telegraph:

When international travel does restart, it is likely to begin with ‘bubbles’ shared with nations including Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam, Trade Minister Dan Tehan stated last week.

Australian Ambassador to the US had stated that the border might stay closed until the world is vaccinated because lockdowns are popular with the Aussies, according to the Daily Mail:

US Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos told an online forum for the Hudson Institute that although border closures are costing Australia’s economy billions, it might be years before citizens get on a plane or return home without having to quarantine.

But Mr Sinodinos said it may take a lot longer given how scared Australians citizens are and how popular strict lockdown measures have become with the public as a result – giving politicians plenty of incentive to support them.

Deloitte expects prolonged border closure:

Australia May Not Fully Reopen Until 2024

Conclusion

It is difficult for countries that expect absolutely zero cases from the country the visitors are coming from or zero community spread.

Even when you are vaccinated, it won’t prevent you from catching covid, but the chance of it being fatal is significantly reduced, and the likelihood of you spreading it is low. It is unclear how long the immunity lasts and if there is a need for booster shots to battle new variants.

It is very challenging to see Covid-19 disappearing anytime soon because herd immunity worldwide is years away if we even ever reach it due to vaccine hesitancy and the continuing mutation of the virus.

It is easy to close the borders, but reopening them is a complicated process, as Australia and New Zealand are finding out.

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