Australia’s borders to remain closed ‘until late 2021’

If you were hoping for a trip to Australia any time soon, it looks like all plans to go Down Under may need to be delayed until 2022.

In his post-budget speech at the National Press Club this week, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “International travel including both 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.”

However, Australia is likely to open its borders to some countries before the end of next year, with a one-way ‘travel bubble’ expected to be formed with New Zealand later this month. This travel bubble would see New Zealanders able to travel to New South Wales, ACT and Northern Territory. Australians will not be able to visit New Zealand yet, but this could be in place by the end of the year.

“New Zealand’s COVID record is a very, very strong on the health side of things, and that will be our first step in that direction,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

Morrison continued: “I have had discussions with President Moon and former Prime Minister Abe about how Australia might be able to move forward together with other countries. I mean, other countries where this is possible. Countries like Singapore, where it could be done as we move into next year.”

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Morrison added that Australia won’t be ‘rushing’ to open its borders and they it will be ‘proceeding carefully’ due to the large spikes of coronavirus it has seen in certain parts of the country, like Melbourne.

The closed border also applies for Australians wanting to go overseas, meaning most will be grounded for the next year. Australia is looking to ramp up its domestic tourism, however, as the budget announced that Tourism Australia has been allocated $231.6 million (£128.4 million) to encourage Australians to travel around their own country.

So far, Australia has seen 27,182 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 897 deaths. The UK has seen over half a million confirmed cases of the virus and over 42,500 deaths.

While Australian airline Qantas has grounded much of its fleet, Etihad has also said it will stop its Brisbane route as it has become ‘commercially unviable’ as Australia continues to cap the amount of passengers able to fly into the country.



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