The International Travel Ban Will Stay in Place Even After the COVID-19 Vaccine Is Distributed

Your hopes and dreams of an overseas holiday in 2021 are still well and truly on hold, despite plans for a roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine next month.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, says the international travel ban will be “one of the last things” to change, according to the ABC.

“[As] the first vaccinations roll-out in a few weeks time, Australia is not going to change everything back to normal,” Kelly said.

“We are in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world. Unfortunately I think international border changes are probably going to be one of the last things to change, rather than the first.”

When will Australian borders open?

There’s no official word yet on when borders will open in Australia, however, it’s likely borders will open to specific countries on a case-by-case basis.

The ‘bubble’ approach will be taken first, and countries that have seen a successful response to COVID-19 will be the first to open pathways with Australia. These may include New Zealand, Japan, the South Pacific Islands, and Singapore. Here are the 10 countries likely to open to Australia first.

According to the ABC, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly says country risk assessments are underway in the hopes Australia will secure a safe match with another low-risk country for new travel bubbles. A two-way bubble with New Zealand is still the most likely, while Pacific Nations are being considered too.

Before Australian borders can open

In the case of the US, some officials, and especially those at Qantas, have said travellers will need to show proof of vaccination before flying into Australia.

Lately, there has been much talk of an “e-vaccination certificate” as a means of moving forward with international travel safely. The e-vaccination certificate would indicate if a traveller has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

International travel ban

Back in December 2020, the ban on outbound international travel was extended until March 17, 2021.

First put in place on March 18, 2020, the biosecurity emergency period was due to expire on December 17, 2020, however, the new three-month extension will see the ban on outbound international travel continue until at least March 17, 2021. The ban applies to international cruise ship arrivals also.

The ban extension comes following advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, who according to News.com.au, cited COVID-19 as an ongoing threat that possesses significant public health risk, despite new vaccines rolling out.

“The disease is spreading as quickly as ever,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said, according to News.com.au. “The international world remains a challenging and dangerous environment and Australia won‘t be fully safe until the international community is safe.”

Right now, Australians are able to leave the country only if they are granted exemptions.

International flights

Despite the bans and predictions from health officials, Qantas has begun taking bookings for flights departing around the world for later this year.

The international carrier has reopened bookings across its international network, and is now allowing hopeful travellers to book fares to the US, UK and parts of Asia from July 1, 2021.

Perhaps it’s optimistic of the airline to assume such large-scale travel could be possible within six months — especially since previous announcements would have us believe global travel was off the cards until late 2021, or even 2024 at the latest.

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