Australia will remain closed to the majority of international arrivals until at least the start of 2022, the Government has said.
“We won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian on Thursday, citing “uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of Covid, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness.”
This marks a delay in earlier plans for the country, which is behind on its vaccination drive target, to open its borders by October of this year, presenting a major blow to those who have been separated from their overseas loved ones for more than a year and counting.
When international travel does restart, it is likely to begin with ‘bubbles’ shared with nations including Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam, Trade Minister Dan Tehan stated last week.
It comes as New Zealand today stopped quarantine-free travel to Australia’s state of New South Wales following the discovery of two cases announced in Sydney.
Health department secretary Brendan Murphy said in January: “Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus. And it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time.”
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