How long will it be before Aussies can go on international holidays?

·4-min read

Yahoo News Australia's Life After Lockdown series investigates what life will be like after coronavirus restrictions.

Over the coming weeks, Australian states and territories are moving to end restrictions to return Australia to something of what it was like before the coronavirus pandemic.

While state and territory leaders are all moving ahead at their own pace, there is one restriction which seems very far off, and experts are inclined to agree.

There is no definitive date as to when international travel restrictions will be lifted, however the general consensus is that it is going to be a while before Australians can holiday internationally.

Picture of grounded Qantas planes at Brisbane Airport, following coronavirus restrictions preventing travel
Australia's borders remain shut to non-residents, reopening them and allowing is a long way off. Source: AAP

Fronting a Senate committee today, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy could not say when international travel would be back on the cards for Australians.

When asked if he thought the travel ban would be lifted this year or next year, Prof Murphy was hesitant to respond, saying "there is no clear road map out of this".

"I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong rigour won't be necessary," he said.

Professor Murphy also said he could not see a an example of a safe road out of coronavirus that did not involve rigorous international border measures.

“Two thirds of our cases have been overseas acquired and... recent analysis in academic literature has shown that those countries that have done the best have actually introduced border measures,” he said.

“I cannot see border measures materially changing for some time and that presents a huge problem for the nation.”

Previously, Infectious disease physician Peter Collignon told Yahoo News Australia he doesn’t anticipate international travel for Australians being a reality until October 2021.

"This virus is everywhere around the world, so basically the problem we've got is if you go overseas, when you come back to Australia for quite a while, New Zealand might be the exception, you're going to have to go into quarantine for a couple of weeks,” Prof Collignon said during a Facebook livestream.

A Virgin Australia worker uses his phone at the check-in counters at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Virgin Australia is seeking bankruptcy protection, entering voluntary administration after a debt crisis worsened by the coronavirus shutdown pushed it into insolvency. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy cannot say when international travel will be back on the cards for Australians, however it. won't be for some time. Source: AP

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham previously said he “wouldn’t put any guarantees” on an overseas trip in December.

“I would say to Australians that now is not a time to be making bookings for travel unless you have an iron-clad insurance policy, because we cannot guarantee when you will be able to undertake that travel,” Mr Birmingham said on April 14.

Australia first barred entry for foreign nationals travelling from mainland China on February 1, the travel ban was then extended to other countries hit hard by coronavirus, before borders were shut to non-Australian residents from March 21.

An ‘obvious place to start’

Along with Australia, New Zealand has also been praised for its handling of the coronavirus and the two neighbouring countries could lead to a Trans-Tasman bubble, allowing for travel between the two.

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas previously told Yahoo News Australia the opening of the international trans-Tasman borders would be “beneficial to both”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison teased the trans-Tasman bubble last week after a National Cabinet meeting where the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined via video call.

“At some point both Australia and New Zealand [will] connect with the rest of the world again, the most obvious place for that to start is between the two countries,” he said.

The bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic have drastically impacted Australian's tourism sector. Source: AAP
The bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic have drastically impacted Australian's tourism sector. Source: AAP

In March overseas arrivals to Australia slumped 60 per cent, due to the imposed restrictions.

Visitors from New Zealand - Australia's largest source country - were also down 56 per cent in March to 48,200, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Preliminary data from the bureau also shows there were just some 7000 overseas visitors in April, down 99 per cent from last year.

As bushfires raged across Australia at the end of last year and start of this year the tourism sector took a hit and some analysts have estimated the coronavirus lockdown will cost the tourism sector up to $2 billion per month.

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