Look, we love to travel as much as the next person, so we understand how frustrating it is when the dates for the opening of international borders keep changing. The latest? 2022.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham explained the reason to The Australian, saying, “We won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.”
However, one group of Australians might be allowed to travel sooner — the fully vaccinated among us.
Scott Morrison has proposed a staged relaxation of rules, pushing states to lift domestic COVID-19 restrictions on fully vaccinated Australians, which will eventually lead to the reopening of international borders.
As he cautioned, “Now those border arrangements, it’s not one day the borders are open, one day the borders are closed. That’s not how it works. There’s a sliding sort of scale here. And we’re working on the next steps. Now, it’s not safe to take those next steps right now. It’s not. But we’ll keep working on what those next steps are.”
This plan could also mean fully vaccinated Australians, in the future, might not have to undergo hotel quarantine — granted that they gain an exemption to travel overseas. They could quarantine from the comfort of their own home, saving thousands of dollars in the process.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was prepared to remove restrictions on vaccinated Australians when there was community transmission once the vaccine rollout had achieved herd immunity, reports The Australian.
But, as he explained, there is currently not enough evidence to inform clinical advice on exactly just how many people in the Northern Territory should be vaccinated, before they open up the border internationally.
“COVID is here to stay,” said Mr Gunner, “And at some point, it will either get into Australia or we will have to let it in after having achieved a herd immunity target.”
This news came shortly after Virgin Australia’s chief executive, Jayne Hrdlicka, when speaking at a business lunch, was quoted saying that an earlier opening for Australia’s border made long-term sense, even if “some people may die”.
Hrdlicka’s concern was that Australia may risk being left behind by the rest of the world if it didn’t reopen its borders. She stated that as long as vaccination levels were high enough, which is something we’re behind on, and vulnerable people were protected — something that’s been deemed as an ‘abject failure’, due to the fact fewer than 1,000 disability residents have been vaccinated against COVID — we should take the risk of fully opening again, sooner than the intended June 2022 date.
Hrdlicka was quoted saying “COVID will be part of the community, we will become sick with COVID and it won’t put us in hospital, and it won’t put people into dire straits because we’ll have a vaccine.