Australia

How long will Australia’s borders remain closed?

Australia's borders will remain closed for some time. Source: AAP

Australians dreaming of an overseas holiday may be waiting a long time for their dream to come true.

Australians are being told to brace for a long delay to any travel plans as international borders remain closed.

While no specific time frame has been given for reopening the borders, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has suggested they could remain closed past the end of the year and into 2021.

The one exception to this is New Zealand, with the government there pushing for the reopening of trans-Tasman flights and an expanding of the travel bubble to include both countries.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he is open to the idea.

“I can’t see international travel happening any time soon. The only exception, as I have flagged, is potentially with New Zealand, and we have had some good discussions about that,” he said.

Both Australia and New Zealand are doing well in flattening the curve in comparison to other countries around the world and have seen lower rates of infection and death compared to their peers.

“For both of us, I anticipate that border restrictions will be present for a long time, so it becomes whether or not there's anything we can build into those border restrictions that take into account our goals to keep COVID out for both of us,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently said.

The reopening of the border with New Zealand could mean Australians could travel there in the coming months.

But holidays to Bali or Thailand will remain off the cards for much longer.

Airlines are offering customers with booked flights the chance to reschedule up until the middle of 2021 and many are predicting borders to remain closed until several months before.

Meg Hall from Chimu Adventures said the Australian tour operator is playing it by ear and just looking at things on a "month to month" scale. 

"We just don't know, we would love to have a date we could tell our customers travel will start again from, but we just can't," she told SBS News. 

She said they remained optimistic about getting passengers on Antartica cruises leaving in November 2021, but everything earlier than that remained up in the air. 

Meanwhile Australians are being encouraged to holiday at home to boost the struggling domestic tourism industry.

“There may be a slightly earlier point in time where it becomes feasible to think about domestic travel again. We’re not there yet but certainly this time is a good time for a bit of dreaming, planning, thinking about the Aussie break that you might take when we finally get to the other side of this,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said.

But in many states the borders remain closed, especially those that have seen fewer cases and have begun the easing of restrictions such as Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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