It’s the trillion-dollar question. When will international travel return, and what role will Australia play? The timid aunt or the daring mistress?
Being one of the fortunate countries when it comes to coronavirus, Australia is unlikely to be a trailblazer in re-opening its borders.
Recent Qantas announcements suggested non-essential flights to and from Australia wouldn’t start until at least March next year. On top of that, experts are dubious we could see any semblance of normality until at least 2023.
However, a recent economic update by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, news.com.au reports, may have just dropped a clue as to when international air travel will resume in Australia – and it could be sooner than you thought.
Australia’s borders, the economic plan states, are to reopen on January the 1st, 2021, with a two week quarantine period to be required of travellers.
That’s not to say business as usual will commence (as news.com.au puts it, “Don’t rush out to try and book a flight because there’s no guarantee that planes will be taking off again then or at anywhere near pre-pandemic levels”), but it is a potentially positive sign.
The budget update reveals Australia is in recession and facing a huge debt, deficit and unemployment hit – all based on a series of assumptions about when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The prediction that international borders will reopen on the 1st of January 2021 is outlined in the document.
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“From 1 January to 30 June 2021, it is assumed that the travel ban is lifted, but that a two-week quarantine period is required of arrivals to Australia,” the Treasury document states.
“This leads to the resumption of arrivals by temporary and permanent migrants, but at lower levels overall than normal.”
That said, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg points out the plan is not set in stone.
“The assumptions are that it very gradually starts to come back, that quarantine is applied, that you start potentially bringing in international students,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
“Of course the environment with respect to the coronavirus is very fluid. Decisions haven’t been taken about the start date for that.”
“Australia banned all non-resident international arrivals on March 21, a key measure in preventing outbreaks of the disease,” perthnow.com.au reports.
A second outbreak in Victoria, and now NSW, is now set to test the nation again.