Overseas travel could be just around the corner for Australians as coronavirus restrictions continue easing to allow freedoms that haven’t been afforded in months.
A timetable proposed by the Tourism Restart Taskforce at its last meeting on May 22 indicated that people could be permitted to travel between Australia and New Zealand within weeks.
The industry group, which advises the government on domestic and international travel, has recommended that all domestic travel recommence by July.
From July 1, it suggested travel between Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific restart, while September 10 was earmarked for potential travel to countries deemed “safe”.
The timetable has yet to be officially signed off, and if borders do proceed opening up, it needs to be with additional health and hygiene protocols in place, according to John Hart, the chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
“We want to put that marker down of July 1, so if industry is called on as part of a bubble we will be ready ... but this can only happen if health advice can happen and government restrictions can happen. So there’s a lot of things to go right for the bubble to happen,” Mr Hart told news.com.au.
“While there’s been no agreement or sign-off (on the timetable) ... to be frank, there’s no need to have all state borders open to have the bubble operate. If we wait as industry players for all the stars to align to receive visitors from NZ, it will never happen.”
If flights do recommence on July 1, the first to fly will be a plane of government officials, media, and business representatives, Mr Hart told 7News.
Unlike all flights previously, passengers would reportedly no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival.
Mr Hart told the network new flight routes could be introduced as part of the plan, such as a direct flight from Canberra in the ACT to Wellington in New Zealand.
“These two cities have had a very low incidence of COVID and several days and weeks with no cases, they are sister cities, capital cities and both hubs of business,” he said.
The prospect of Trans Tasman travel was discussed in a National Cabinet meeting on May 5, which was joined by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern via video call.
Ms Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed they were both in favour of the idea, but remained focussed on further curbing cases of COVID-19 in their respective countries.
The Department of Health will consult with the tourism taskforce to make decisions on which countries will be safe for Australians to travel to and which will remain on the no-fly list, 7News reported.
According to the timetable, all international travel was expected to resume by 2021.
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