Australians will have to wait at least six months before they can travel overseas – but interstate flights could resume much earlier as COVID-19 lockdown is eased
- Experts have given their predictions for when lockdown measures may be eased
- Queensland, WA, and NSW will begin to ease some restrictions this week
- The government is also considering opening the borders to New Zealand
- But travel to other parts of the world won’t be allowed until at least October
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Australia’s first set of coronavirus restrictions are set to be lifted within weeks – but overseas holidays will have to wait until October at the earliest, experts have said.
State and federal leaders will meet on May 11 to discuss which measures will be the next in line to be relaxed, following the flattening of the COVID-19 curve in recent weeks.
Queensland and WA will begin easing some rules from this week, while NSW announced on Tuesday it will start reducing isolation by allowing two people to visit another household.
Interstate travel could be allowed without restrictions as early as August if infections stay low, experts predict.
But Australians wishing to travel internationally after the pandemic should not expect to do so until spring or summer time, as officials warned the international travel ban won’t be lifted for another six months, at the earliest.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said it was very hard to see how Australia could open up its borders with other countries like the United States and United Kingdom at this point in time
International travel restrictions are unlikely to be relaxed any time soon, authorities have said. Pictured: A passenger wears a protective face mask at Sydney Airport
In the latest update on coronavirus restrictions, the federal government said the international travel ban is expected to remain in place long-term, but domestic travel is likely to restart sooner depending on the situation in each state.
An exception could be travel to New Zealand, with the government considering establishing a trans-Tasman bubble allowing travel to and from Australia.
ROAD TO RECOVERY – ACCORDING TO EXPERTS
April: Some elective surgery. Schools reopen
May: More schools open. No more fines for leaving home
June: Gatherings limit increased to allow very small social events. Restrictions lifted on ‘non-essential’ businesses and shops
July: Pubs, cafes, restaurants return but with ‘tight controls’ – limits on numbers and spaces between groups
August or September: Interstate holidays resume with half-empty planes. Pubs, restaurants and cafes fully reopened.
Infectious disease expert Professor Peter Collignon told Daily Mail Australia that prohibition on international travel to and from Australia is likely to remain in place until after winter.
There’s a possibility Australians could begin to take interstate holidays sooner by August or September – if infection rates remain low.
‘Domestic travel (including NZ) will start up again much easier providing we can keep our infections rates low here, plus lots of testing, washing hands, no big crowds and physical distancing,’ he said.
Mr Collignon said the decision to restart international travel will also depend on what happens ‘next winter in Europe and North America’, and whether infections will spike again.
He speculated an overseas holiday could be possible before Christmas if things break the right away around the world.
The earliest would be October, but only to certain locations and with extreme inconvenience, he predicted.
‘You would only be allowed to go if it was a relatively safe place but you’d have to put up with being quarantined for two weeks when you get back,’ he said.
Quarantine on return would be necessary for the next 12 months at least as even a few infected travellers could start a new outbreak.
When this would be possible depends on how other countries go combating coronavirus and if Australia is satisfied with their efforts.
‘We need better data to make sure where you’re going is an area of relatively low transmission and right now we don’t have it for anywhere because there’s not enough testing,’ Professor Collignon said.
Interstate travel could resume soon depending on the infection rates in each state. Pictured: Police conduct checks on the NSW- Queensland border on April 11
Even if travel restrictions are lifted, it is likely travelers will be forced to quarantine upon return. Pictured: Passengers at Sydney’s International Airport
On Monday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton floated the idea of opening Australia’s borders to New Zealand as the ‘logical first step’, after both countries have seen success in containing the virus.
But when it comes to opening the borders to other parts of the world such as the US or UK, ‘that will be sometime off,’ he warned.
Mr Dutton credited Australia’s success in containing coronavirus to the swift action it took in closing its borders.
ARTICLE COURTESY OF KAREN RUIZ FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA