Australia’s international borders are expected to remain closed until mid-2022, according to predictions in Federal Budget papers.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday flagged the “next steps” towards reopening the country, noting travel and quarantine restrictions could be eased for those who are vaccinated, paving the way for foreign students and workers to enter.
Speaking to Today, infectious diseases physician Sanjaya Senanayake said the incentive would be similar to the approach other countries have taken.
“This would be consistent with what we’re seeing in countries like Germany, where over the weekend, the federal law was passed saying that if you’ve had COVID in the last six months or you’re fully vaccinated – you’re essentially free from restrictions, including being able to travel and not having to quarantine when you come back,” Mr Senanayake said.
“I don’t necessarily know if we have to go that far.
“Even though the risk of transmission is reduced with a lot of these vaccines, a proportion still can get infected so you might need some precautions in already vaccinated travellers.”
Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner told Today there was “nothing really unusual” about Australia looking to open international borders and allowing vaccinated Aussies to potentially bypass quarantine restrictions.
“I’m pretty confident that Australia will start opening up – well, it already has started with New Zealand, but with other relatively safe corridors, if you like, it will start opening over the next three to six months,” Mr Turner said.
Mr Turner believes Australians will have to be vaccinated in order to travel overseas, let alone be able to return home without having to quarantine.
He echoed Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka’s controversial sentiments that Australia was going to “have to live with the virus”, despite the chief executive landing herself in hot water over the remarks yesterday.
“The virus will be around, people will catch and I think we just have to accept that,” Mr Turner said.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much choice, really. If you want to live a normal life, you want to travel, you will need to be vaccinated.”
He likened the coronavirus pandemic to the influenza crisis about a century ago and how the world had to learn to “live with it”.
“The flu was much more dangerous 100 years ago than this virus is, but we’ve eventually learned to live with it and have yearly vaccinations,” he said.