An inter-Australian travel bubble by Christmas has become a more realistic prospect after the country recorded zero community transmission of coronavirus for the first time since June.
The major milestone comes as states and territories this week announced transitions from hard to soft borders, allowing state-to-state travel once again.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Sunday that Australia was “on track” to opening up in time for Christmas, but conceded there was still more work to be done before that became reality.
“Tasmania has significantly opened its borders, Western Australia has moved from a hard to a soft border, [and] Queensland has expanded their border openings, but there’s more to go,” Mr Hunt told reporters.
“As confidence is built, we want to see those borders open as quickly as possible. There are no commonwealth decisions, and no AHPPC or medical expert decisions as to closure of internal borders in Australia.
“What we’re seeing, with continued low numbers in Victoria and NSW, the case for one single internal national bubble is growing.”
Mr Hunt said it was expected that NSW and Queensland would want to first gain confidence in Victoria’s contact tracing abilities before allowing the quarantine-free entrance of people from the state.
“We’re now in a position where we would like to see NSW and Queensland be able to, as soon as possible, to have free movement between the jurisdictions,” he said.
“Once Victoria has its contact tracing to gold standard level, then I think we’ll see a single national bubble in due course.
“The fact that we’re having continually low [cases], means that we are on track to the prime minister’s goal of a country which is internally open before Christmas.”
Following last Friday’s National Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed every state and territory, aside from Western Australia, would “open up” by Christmas.
Advice just in from the National Incident Centre - Zero community transmission cases today Australia wide- the 1st national zero community transmission day since June 9. Thankyou to all of our amazing health & public health workers & above all else the Australian people.
— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) November 1, 2020
The Prime Minister announced an agreed reopening plan between state and territory leaders that “includes the necessary actions needed on a public health response” to support it.
“By the end of this year, premiers and chief ministers reiterated their support for that goal today,” he told media.
Victoria once again recorded no new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with there just 61 active cases remaining across the state.
Authorities have now turned their attention to Tuesday's Melbourne Cup public holiday, urging people to celebrate in accordance with coronavirus regulations.
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