Aussie Borders May Stay Shut Until Next Year

Any hopes of heading overseas for that long-awaited international trip have been dashed by the Tourism Minister. Despite ongoing procedures that have quelled much of the impact of COVID-19 in Australia, the Federal Government’s stance on travel remains quite strict. On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told the National Press Club that international travel was likely to be off the table until next year.”I do sadly think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off,” he said. Further, when he was asked if that meant the border would not open until 2021, he said, “I think that is more likely the case”.

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Simon Birmingham

Minister Birmingham didn’t dismiss the idea of travel entirely, however, suggesting that certain deals, like the one suggested with New Zealand, could allow for freedom of movement between less impacted countries. “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,” he said.

While a sad announcement for those gearing up for a big Winter escape, the announcement confirms suspicions that international travel is not a high priority for the Federal Government. Instead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was “fully immersed” in making decisions that would address the growing disparity in working conditions post-lockdown.

“When it comes to facilitating the ability of people to move in and out of Australia, involved in important employment or work or investment or whether it is students or others, I’ve just had some of those issues raised with me by the entertainment industry about tours and promotions and artists and so on,” Prime Minister Morrison said in a press conference. “These are very practical issues that go to the opening of the economy and I can tell you, we are fully immersed in all of these decisions.”

The Prime Minister then echoed his message in a later interview with 2GB Radio. “I can’t honestly see international travel more generally, people coming from all over the world to Australia again anytime soon,” he told the station. “I think there’s the opportunity for Australians to engage in essential business travel, there are already exemptions for that at the moment, provided the quarantine arrangements are put in place when they return. So, we’ll look, we’re just looking to be as practical as we can about this and open-up the economy as much as possible, because that’s what it’s going to get the jobs back.”

So, for the time being, keep your plans grounded. If you are desperate for a change of scenery, it might be worth hitting the open road for a trip, we could be here for a while.

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