Australia Borders To Remain Closed Until Late 2021

Filed Under: Travel

While many countries around the world are starting to reopen to visitors, that’s not the case in Australia. As a matter of fact, it looks like borders in Australia may remain closed until late 2021.

Australia to remain closed for another year

Australia’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has this week stated the government’s expectation that Australia will remain closed to most until late 2021:

“International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time. And a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget.”

With this plan, not only would Australia’s borders remain closed for roughly another year, but:

Australia closed its borders back in March 2020, and previously the plan was that the county would remain closed until at least early 2021, meaning borders would be closed for nearly a year.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

Qantas’ long haul fleet may be grounded for another year

Is Australia taking the right approach?

I think just about every country is struggling to find the right balance between having life go on while protecting people. I don’t think there’s a single right approach to take. In the case of Australia, I would note:

  • Some estimates suggest that up to 100,000 Australians are stuck abroad, as Australia has severe flight caps due to the 14-day hotel quarantine; many people are having to wait weeks to return home, and then have to book an outrageously expensive ticket (due to flight caps, many airlines are primarily selling business class)
  • Despite Australia’s borders having been closed and the very strict quarantine, the country did see a spike in late July, and the country has recorded nearly 900 coronavirus deaths, a majority of which happened months into border closures

I respect Australia’s approach, and objectively Australia has seen a lot fewer cases and deaths per capita than many other counties. I wonder how these numbers would have changed with some tweaks:

  • What if those returning to Australia only had to quarantine for a week and get double tested during that period? A study in Canada suggests that this would catch a vast majority of coronavirus cases
  • What if the country allowed visitors, but with some sort of significant testing requirement?
  • How effective are the costly hotel quarantines vs. home quarantines?

And then there are the questions about Australia’s long term plans:

Like I said, I’m not suggesting Australia is doing the wrong thing, though it’s always interesting to consider alternatives and the long term plan.

Take Hawaii, for example, which has also been closed to most tourists up until now:

  • Nonetheless the state saw a spike in coronavirus cases
  • The state hasn’t done much to prepare for a reopening of tourism, like increasing ICU capacity, or making testing available on a widespread basis on arrival
  • Hawaii will finally reopen in a few days, though I’m not sure what has actually changed compared to a few months ago in that regard?

Bottom line

If you were hoping to travel to Australia anytime in the next year, it seems unlikely that will happen, as the country’s borders are likely going to remain closed to most for another year.

The government is now expecting tourism to resume in late 2021, and that’s at least partly working off the assumption that there’s a vaccine by then.

Of course it’s possible that things will change, but at least that’s the plan as of now…

What do you make of Australia’s approach to handling coronavirus as it impacts travel?

  1. A bubble has already been created from NZ to 2 Australian states. It does not yet exist from AU to NZ.
    Given our state borders are not fully open, international travel is a long way off. In Melbourne we are still in 5km lockdown with only essential shops open, eg food. Bit of perspective we had 14 new cases yesterday.

  2. @james it’s not great. The problem is that in Victoria we have no choice but to get to zero. No other state will let us in.

  3. “Australia has seen a lot fewer cases and deaths per capita than many other countries.” And they’ve paid for it with a loss of basic human rights (an absolute police state in Victoria), a massive loss of prosperity and freedom, and an unknown number of deaths from suicide, drug overdose, and generalized despondence. That’s no victory.

  4. @MDA (or another Australian poster), do you know how Medicare is dealing with providing healthcare benefits to Australians stranded abroad? It seems such a precarious situation, given that individuals aren’t allowed to repatriate. Thank you.

  5. Lucky’s points are all important to consider but these countries (NZ, Aust, Taiwan, Thailand) are unfortunately still trying to achieve eradication not mitigation.

    What they consider to be spikes is still way lower than in Europe and certainly in the US.

    I think the idea of international tourism with stringent, double testing would hopefully catch virtually all cases, but that still wouldn’t stop local transmission and if countries are so concerned about getting their cases to zero, they would never even consider letting others in…even if that means the collapse of their tourism industry.

  6. Lol, could you imagine living in Australia right now?
    I left in March (last flight out BNE-LAX), and so glad I did.

    Currently enjoying Europe before heading to Africa this Fall.

    I can’t imagine an entire country of people just throwing up their hands and saying ‘yes, 2 years of our lives, no problem, come and take it.’ Especially when the fatality rate is less than Influenza for anyone under 65.

    It’s just… it’s just sad that this is what society has come to there.
    From rebellious and tough – to just begging to be controlled.

    Wow. What an age we live in.

  7. @tortuga Medicare only covers you in Australia. Some countries have reciprocal rights. So a lot of stranded aussies are without healthcover.
    It is horrendous the way Australians stranded overseas are being treated. The message back in March was stay where you are if you have a job, healthcare etc. so people stayed. They have since lost their job and can’t get home.
    I was in Singapore when Australia went into close border mode. Best decision I made was to buy a new ticket at 3am and leave straight for the airport. I was one of the last to go into home quarantine (which I followed).
    BTW I consider myself lucky. I still have a job and am not sick.

  8. @Tortuga, Australian Medicare has never been available while overseas and every Australian knows that. You go overseas, you buy travel insurance. If you decide to live overseas, it’s your responsibility to arrange for healthcare in the country you’ve decided to live in.

  9. @Mak you want people to die so you can feel the “freedom” to go out to a bar and flush money down a police machine, which will some how cure your drug dependency and stop you from killing yourself. Yeah right.

  10. @MDA, @[email protected], thank you for the background info. I’m utterly ignorant of Australian healthcare, and a look at Wikipedia didn’t prove fruitful. My heart goes out to everyone without access to care, and I had hoped that Australians would not fall under that category.

  11. this means none of their athletes will attend the summer Olympics. also, there are ways to mitigate future travel with rules in place. get vaccinated, tested before travel, and then again on arrival. all documented with papers at checkin, how can this not be done by then?

  12. All in all I think one can say that Swedens strategy was the best.
    Keeping the economy open and leaving everything else e.g. mask wearing in the responsibilty of the individual.

  13. Interesting to see all the different approaches that countries are taking. I remember in the beginning social distancing, wearing a mask and staying at home was a protocol to follow to help SLOW DOWN the spread so hospitals would not be overloaded. Now it seems they think they can stop it? I saw this post on Facebook today. Food for thought:

  14. I heard Australia becoming a police state . Is corona even that bad compared to anything already out there like seasonal flu . Wow nice way to kill tourism

  15. I believe there are plans to hold the Australian Open in Jan 2021, with players having to arrive early and quarantine for 14 days. So it seems there will be some limited exceptions to the border closure.

  16. I am missing travel deeply but, by and large, I am in favour of Australian measures. We’ve kept cases and deaths low. I’m furious that the incompetence of the management of hotel quarantine and the selfishness of the individuals who caused the virus to get out got us locked down for a second time in Melbourne.

    Selfishness from other people Wil get us locked down again. Even though we’re still a few weeks away from getting out of this lockdown, masks, distancing, hygiene are breaking down because people are frustrated. But we need to stay the course and get this under control. My worst fear is that selfish individuals will cause a 3rd lockdown.

    We do need to expand hotel quarantine to allow Australians home, and come up with a much fairer system of allocating places on planes that who can afford a business class ticket. Expecting fairness from ScoMo… well I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    Once we do we need to keep in our bubble until we have a vaccine. I hope our bubble expands to include not just New Zealand but vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, China, etc. Countries that have been similarly successful in controlling the virus.

    The idea that we would open to tourism from the US or European countries is unthinkable right now. Survey after survey shows the public health measures to be well supported (I won’t say popular). People here recognise that this is a serious disease with serious short and long term consequences.

    @MDA, you area largely correct about Medicare although there are a limited number of countries with reciprocal arrangements between their public health systems and Medicare. They are

    the Netherlands
    New Zealand
    the Republic of Ireland
    the United Kingdom

    Anywhere else you are on your own with respect to healthcare whilst traveling.

  17. @Pete

    Did you seriously just say it’s “unfortunate” that those countries are trying to minimize the loss of life to COVID? They’ve kept their numbers low so they’re not “trying” to eradicate, they’ve already done it.

    They don’t have to fail just because the rest of the world did.

  18. I wouldn’t take any of these “plans” – be it Japan opening in April 2021 or Australia staying closed until “late 2021” as set in stone. Things can and will change – in either direction. I wouldn’t take anything more that 2 or 3 months out as certain.

  19. @Andrew @pho – fear not – both will still happen! Some examples to prove that we look after sporting stars and celebrities…..

    Australian Cricket Team – chartered a plane and flew to the UK. I guess you could call it work so that is why they were allowed out of Australia. However unlike the many stranded Australians they had NO problems getting into Australia.

    Now lets talk about celebrities. Nicole Kidman and family came back to Australia. Again private plane. She also managed to quarantine on her property in the NSW highlands. To be fair it was probably a safer solution than the security nightmare of having her in a hotel – and she paid for it. Again Australian citizens so completely fair. I have no issue with that. I am intrigued as to how she managed to get around the cap of people into Australia each day?

    Now lets talk about Tom Hanks – he and his film crew managed to fly into QLD (BNE). Yes they are bringing a lot of money and jobs. However there are instances of Australians in other states not being allowed into QLD for compassionate reasons (one of the people impacted was from Canberra which I believe had not had any cases in weeks). Now there is Natalie Portman and family – they are in Byron Bay. Allowing foreigners in seems a little unfair when the many stranded Australians can not get home.

    All that aside – I just want to get on a plane. Local trip number one will be Lord Howe Island.

  20. Medicare and other national health care schemes have reciprocal deals. Most of Europe and all the EU, Canada, Japan to name a few it’s tucked away in the Medicare website. Have used the Italian and French systems with no problems what so ever only required my Passport. The debate on opening and closing bordered or lockdown can be best viewed as some countries put a higher price on the life of their citizens than others. Those who protest their lack of rights, I get it but at least you are alive to protest in the first place?

  21. @dunc not protesting at all. I do the rest GBT thing every day. What is sad is that many Australians are now stranded due to job losses internationally. Those I know are not seeking financial support or wanting to avoid quarantine . Merely the right to come home.

  22. Doesn’t really seem that sustainable or rational. Surely, the ”other” impacts of a 1,5+ year lockdown (other healthcare/mental issues, finance, …) would suggest that testing, face coverings, social distancing guidelines etc would be a better approach in the long run.

    If I’m still stuck in Sweden (where I live) and can’t travel to the US/Asia in, lets say, June, I might resort to following Trump’s advice and drink some bleach to put me out of my misery 🙂 (And I hope that I will be able to go to the US much, much sooner than next summer.)

  23. I’m an American who relocated to Sydney in Nov 2019 (bushfires) while bulldogs joined us in February 2020 literally two cweeks before lockdown. This has been a crazy ride! I can leave the country, but I cannot return.

    Not being able to see family or friends for two years is tough to say the least, especially during a pandemic with infected relatives in the States. The situation has also made us put a pause on US surrogacy plans because of the uncertainty around travel.

    I’m hoping there will be faster, more accurate testing that would reduce the amount of time spent in quarantine. This would both expedite the return of Australians stuck abroad and allow non-residents the ability to apply for travel exemptions to be able to return to Australia. Expanding quarantine accommodations is also another option. In the case of non-residents, quarantine accommodations should be self-funded as to not burden Australian taxpayers. With quicker testing and expanded quarantine options, it would reduce the amount of time someone has to quarantine, which in turn would speed up the backlog.

    When the vaccine becomes available, I would suspect Australia will make it mandatory for anyone entering the country…hopefully with a reduced quarantine period as well.

    International tourism outside of the proposed travel bubbles would be the last phase, in my opinion. The Australian government is all about risk aversion.

  24. Lukas, it’s not 1.5 year lockdown, only melbourne is locked down right now. Generally the public health measures are very well supported in Australia. As much as I want to travel, it will be on our own continent for a while and wherever our safe bubble extends

    Not sure what happened to my much longer post, I guess it is stuck in moderation, I don’t think I said anything controversial.

  25. Undoubtedly the most corrupt and incompetent government in Australian history, and COVID response is just a small part of that. The ineptitude with which they’ve managed things is staggering: from allowing infected passengers to disembark from a cruise ship in Sydney, with totally free movement…they flew all over Australia and around the world, leading to thousands of cases; to the scandalously incompetent manangement of the aged care sector.
    But they’ve been very good at keeping the doors open for ‘celebrities’ like Lord Sugar, the reality tv show host, who arrived via EK for no good purpose other than making money, while denying entry/exit to those with very good reason. There is a long list of those given entry/exit , inter alia, billionaires, film actors, tennis players, cricketers, business people.
    This comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the responsible politician: the very guy who approves ‘au pair’ visas for staff for his mates and cronies, overturning decisions to reject by the professional officers.

  26. People have lost their minds. The obsession with Covid over every other public health issue, let alone the world economy, is mind boggling.

  27. Save for the spike in Melbourne (where most of the deaths and infections have occured), life has returned to fairly normal circumstances elsewhere around the country.

    When Melbourne finally controls and shows it has the capacity to trace all the cases they have like NSW does, then I think the Australian attitude to ensuring we maintain little or no infection will be the prevailing one.

    The way the Federal Australian government has treated Australians overseas is utterly shameful. They have left the response to the states rather than doing anything themselves. Disgraceful.

  28. @Mak Would you like to explain to those Americans whose family members have died why their deaths were necessary in the name of “prosperity and freedom”? Australian deaths per capita are 1/23rd of America’s, and even in Melbourne less than 1/5th, because the State Government has the courage and Melburnians have the sense and compassion to do what’s necessary to keep people alive. My parents are over 70 and still alive and I wouldn’t change that for the sake of a little more “prosperity and freedom”.

  29. @derek

    We still have some rights here in the states thanks to a President that recognizes we can’t hide in a basement for 2 years over a virus in which 95% have no or mild symptoms, 99.87% don’t die, and where therapeutics have proven to be very helpful. Australia has it much better with demographics that mean less obesity, less diabetes, and better health. It’s sad Australia has become even worse than China on human rights. A pregnant woman was arrested for saying on social media she was going to attend a protest of the lockdown conditions. A lot of politicians in Australia know the lockdowns are an overreaction and we’re done in Europe and North America because bureaucrats used it as a pretext to grow government power, but they have to continue on for show because the public has been brainwashed by media hype and the establishment academic community.

    90% of the people who would have died from COVID in Australia will die next month from their chronic health conditions. Australia didn’t save anyone but destroyed its economy, freedom, and well being of its citizens. Guess who will step in to fill the economic gap: China.

  30. @Colin The guy in charge of revenue and the budget. Not sure what you’d call it in the US – Secretary of the Treasury? Ideally someone who understands economics, insofar as any politician understands economics. In Australia, the Treasurer is generally the second highest profile politician behind the Prime Minister.

  31. @ Jackson Henderson
    Complete ‘stuff and nonsense’….Australians overwhelmingly support the lockdowns, determined as they are by state ( not national ) governments on both sides of politics. They have been…ARE…a huge PITA. But support for them, while not universal, is very strong. The clueless freaks whinging about loss of individual rights? They are ‘shut down’ by the 95% taking the view that there is a greater collective good to be had from adhering to the requirements.
    Your suggestion that the victims would have died anyway, within a month, is as ludicrous as it is offensive.
    The major risk to public support comes from the national government continuing to approve travel for connected types , while denying it for those wanting to return/leave for much more significant reasons.

  32. @David Actually I agree with @Pete. They do seem to be trying to get to 0, which to me seems unbelieveably unrealistic.

    We have to find a way that finds a happy medium in between irresponsible Trumpian “let’s all pretend it doesn’t exist and gather in crowds” on and let’s quarantine everyone for 2 years, destroying tens of thousands of tourism and hospitality jobs and income and not even consider the options of pre-flight and post-arrival Covid testing.

    I mean, their right to do what they feel best protects their citizens but I think it’s unbelievably draconian. We have to find a way to live with this, it could be here FOR A LONG WHILE

  33. Why can’t people travel if they are proven to be Covid-free?

    A test a few days before you leave, maybe another at airport, and a third test upon arrival.

    If travel is halted for a second year, the hotel, airline, tourism and hospitality industries will collapse. Billions of losses and entire livelihoods destroyed.

    Imagine a country like Maldives that gets an overwhelming amount of its entire cash reserves and GDP from tourism. How will it survive a second year?

  34. Australia is an island/continent the size of mainland US with a population roughly the same as southern California. To make any broad comparison between the two is pointless. There are plenty of towns/counties from Texas to North Dakota that have had zero cases along with zero lockdowns or mask mandates. Maybe we should compare them to Oz? No?

    If Australia wants to stay closed to the world it should be free to make that choice without outside influence. If the US wants to allow freedom of travel that is equally their right. Not everything needs to be contentious. Nobody is forcing other countries to allow entry for US citizens or forcing Australia to allow entry of foreigners.

    However, in my opinion, to prevent your own citizens from repatriating is wrong. For all it’s faults, at least the US allows it’s citizens to return home to friends, family, property, livelihood.

  35. Lucky,

    Budget planning and pandemic/health planning aren’t necessarily the same. It’s prudent to make conservative assumptions in budgeting.

    Fingers crossed it won’t be this bad.

  36. @jackson – your made a lot of statements which I am keen to understand further…..

    (1) “A lot of politicians in Australia know the lockdowns are an overreaction”. Can you please name who they are and what party they belong to? The phrase “a lot” implies a long list, please provide the article which provides the names of the politicians. I am interested in both federal and state.

    (2) “90% of the people who would have died from COVID in Australia will die next month from their chronic health conditions”. Can you please provide a link to where this statistic comes from?

    I am keen to understand your statistics. Always open to learning.

  37. I thought NYC was bad with cumo and deblohard. These restrictions are awful especially given the low case rate

  38. Even China, which arguably has world’s tightest quarantine requirement, and largely eradicate coronavirus from country, allows foreigners to go back for a few months now (Also need to 14 day mandatory quarantine, says something right.

  39. I think the type of economic health care system a country has, plays a big role in how a country responds to Covid19. It is quite interesting to compare places with predominantly “market based – user pays” health care, generally these are third or emerging world economies, with countries which have predominantly “socialised – government pays” health care, generally these are first world or emerged economies.

    So during an airborne viral pandemic, economically, a socialised health system would be trying to contain government costs by deploying proactive and preventative measures. Whereas a market based health system would, economically, be trying to make a profit by treating people once they become sick. Both systems do have the same end goal though – saving lives.

    As this is an article discussing Australia, which has a predominantly socialised system, as well as a significant state and federal health apparatus to deploy, costs are contained by stopping people becoming sick in the first place. So you see no-user cost testing, income support if you test positive and need to quarantine so can’t work, non-user cost medical care if you become sick, a guarantee from the federal government that every person in the country will have access to a no-user cost vaccine if/when one becomes available… the ethos is still based on an individual’s personal perspective though – “my health tomorrow, relies on your health today”.

    So travel to and from Australia, only for the duration of the pandemic, is likely to be contained to countries with similar values.

  40. So many of the commenters here miss the fact that except for Melbourne, everyone else in Australia has the ability to move within their state (or in the case of some states, can even travel interstate) without restriction. Even with that spike Ben talked about that was contained to one city pretty much.

    In Melbourne the support is there but it is wavering because it’s now extreme for what it is, but people don’t complaint “oh I have no rights” as we know it’s for the greater good.

    For international arrivals it’s not the government preventing people, they have just set a cap on arrivals, it’s the airlines booting people off and so they should be held responsible.

  41. If some international visitor enters Japan and spreads covid to locals (Japanese), I really want to throw rocks at that person (no, I won’t actually do that… just in my mind). Being infected by a local is, well, things do happen, there is a risk we have to take to have a decent life. But a recent infection from a international visitor? This should not have happened had the government made a wise decision. Many people were already fed up with over-tourism, some of us are laughing out loud (thanks covid!) on those in the hospitality/tourism/related industries that made a killing by doing business with international visitors that do not respect our culture at all.
    I personally think the Olympics should not be held. At the very least, no international fans please.

  42. The Treasurer, Frydenburg, was speaking in terms of budgeting for the next year or so. Of course if it benefited his party there would be untold billions available; no problem!
    Confusingly, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said we are not going for an elimination strategy, but one of containment. Of course he could change his mind at the drop of a hat and deny he ever said that (has form there.)
    Most states have achieved elimination in fact, with only one (Victoria) continuing to bungle things. (Other states have closed their borders to that rogue state).
    So if borders were to be closed until the end of 2021 (unlikely) the populance would expect nothing less than complete and total elimination sooner rather than later as the tradeoff. Even so they would be swept out of office at the next general election (yay!). Even Australians have limits to their patience.

  43. I would rather be here in SE Queensland than in Europe right now facing lockdown 2.0. I had this argument with another Australian here the other day about mitigation vs. eradication. Personally I will take eradication for the time being and just get used to the new normal. I see it as more of a rebalancing for tourism reliant cities. It is never a good idea to hinge so much of your city’s economy on one sector, especially expecting foreign dollars to fund it. If we had to live in a mitigation scenario, the health directives would be changing every week with the ebb and flow of cases and hotspots. We have far more freedom under this policy. Most cases in Queensland are found in hotel quarantine with one community transmission scare a few months ago.

    That being said, the more robust areas of the tourism and hospitality here are basically back to normal. When I go out on the weekends it’s like nothing ever happened. Hotels are posting excellent occupancy rates, the theme parks are open and OMG the malls on the weekend are at pre Christmas capacity every week. Most people can go back and work in their offices if they choose.

    I would prefer to live this way than be constantly frightened about going backwards. Sure, Queensland Health has made some shitty mistakes regarding repatriation and compassionate exemptions while pushing through sports teams but it’s maybe a dozen cases that weren’t given the correct consideration? They are doing a good job and under the volume of requests they deal with, mistakes will happen.

    Hotel quarantine has made normalcy possible. We are a small country, we are an island and so it is possible for us to pursue this and we should be thankful we aren’t staring down the barrel of a locked down winter. Instead, we should welcome the possibility of internal borders being dropped to enjoy freedom of movement through the summer because we are doing a great job, even Victoria 🙂

  44. The ongoing battle over covid19 has turned the internet into an unpleasant place. Who’d have thought we would miss the comments and engaging discussions of 2019?

  45. @Kristin~ well said. Living in SA we were slightly ahead of QLD in getting a grip on things. It was down to our great CMO, Professor Nicola Spurrier, who had a commonsense and reasonable approach to early lockdown which the public embraced. It certainly paid off.
    Key to it all was that politicians kept pretty much out of it and took the advice of the medical professionals.
    Federally, the messaging has been confusing and shambolic as Prime Minister Morrison can’t resist interfering in matters he knows next to nothing about. Sounds a lot like his American counterpart?

  46. There are two sides to this story Lucky and whilst you have covered the fact that international travellers are not visiting Australia, the other side is that Australian citizens & residents have been under tight control internally and can’t leave the country either!

    I think @MDA has pretty much summed up the Australian situation correctly and in pretty good humour for someone who has been in lockdown for so long, not sure I would be quite as tolerant if I was in Melbourne. We are an island nation and most of our original covid cases were brought into Australia by returning travellers so locking down the borders probably made sense at one time. For the most part Australians are now living pretty normal lives with minimal restriction apart from Melbourne.

    Personally I don’t believe there is any justification for prohibiting Australian citizens or anyone for that matter, from leaving the country but I would be in the minority. And as others have said, most Australians as seem to support the govt on these measures. I agree with @MDA & @Paola that there are way too many exceptions based on sports, money & celebrity!. Overall though I think the govt restriction is based on airline load and capacity in hotels for quarantining on the return. We live in a tech age, surely a digital bracelet or the like would enable us to quarantine at home but…… And as for the state closures, just petty madness. As a QF P1, I lived on planes pre covid and frankly I miss travelling interstate and more so internationally.

    There is also a limitation on actual flights into Australia rather than govt controls. Under the guise of Covid Qantas took the opportunity to ground all their international flights and use this period to terminate most of their staff and restructure their entire business. Great for their shareholders no doubt but not for anyone else. So of course this significantly reduced the load for airline seats into Australia. And not just passengers, freight as well so many of the international airlines who are still flying here are doing Australia a big service by bringing both people and freight while Qantas sits on the sidelines preparing their business for the new normal!! The govt should be calling QF out on that selfish decision not condoning them. QF could increase the number of returning passengers overnight if they took to the skies again.

    Australia’s healthcare system is functioning as normal so @JacksonHenderson it is unlikely there will be be a spike in chronic health conditions unless people choose not to go to a dr for whatever reason. @Tortuga Our Medicare is NOT the same as US Medicare. Medicare is a much more wide ranging program and an entitlement here from the moment you are born and enables everyone to see medical staff and be admitted to hospital at no charge. All hospitals & doctors across the country are part of the medicare system. Of course there is also private health insurance which unlike the US is user pays not employer pay. A large chunk of the population has private health insurance if they want a private room in a hospital, want to see a specialist sooner, have elective surgery etc but you don’t need it to see a doctor or go to the hospital.

    Australia has also survived the winter season and now well into spring heading into Summer so hopefully things will continue to improve. Predominantly, children have been in school in Australia as normal throughout the year. The main summer vacation will start in mid December through February. Tourism operators around the country will tell you that they are booking very strongly for that period as all the Aussies that would normally travel overseas are now booking locally. We have been extremely fortunate in this country and the govts hard decisions have obviously played a part in that. Australia declared a pandemic & implemented a plan prior to the WHO and certainly way before the US. For some of us, we have been shut down since late December due to the shocking bushfires and we were wearing P95 masks all through January just to breathe. We a had slight reprieve in February and by March we were shut down again for Covid. There have been no foreign tourists, no international students and plenty of hits to business, individuals and academia in this country so the future doesn’t look rosy but as we have not been in recession for 30 years, there is plenty to build on now that we are.

    Nothing is perfect and all Australian govt decisions certainly haven’t been either but I think we would all agree that the price of the lockdowns and early restrictions has been worth it when one looks at the low number of deaths we have had compared to many other countries particularly the US. Yes, we (well, me) look at Europe and the US and envy the travelling that many people seem to be doing but honestly with the virus still spreading and the fact that so much is closed and not functioning normally in the Northern Hemisphere, there doesn’t seem a lot of point in being away at the moment when a pretty much restriction free Spring and Summer is here for us in Australia.

  47. What about our immigrants who have families live overseas? Are we not allowed to see them unless they are dying? Even then I’m not sure how many of us can offend the hotel quarantine after coming back.
    It’s seriously against human rights if you ask me. We are not looking forward for a overseas holiday, we ONLY want to see our parents, sisters, brothers…….

  48. @Kristen whilst I agree that besides the debacle over mismanaged hotel quarantine in Victoria, Australia has done a good job overall, and like for you in QLD, here in Sydney life is reasonably normal. However the problem is that some states like QLD & WA have let politics override health, and having border lockdowns is not very productive on many counts. You say that hotel bookings are robust, but for the Gold Coast, they rely predominantly on tourists coming from NSW & Victoria and they might be busy on weekends from Brisbane day trippers, but during the week it’s very quiet with low hotel occupancy rates. Must be killing small tourism operators. There is no reason to keep the border closed with NSW any longer. I just wish those that work in the public sector who’s wages and jobs are unaffected, start to realise this.

  49. For some more colour. ScoMo is talking about travel bubbles with South Korea, Singapore and Japan with travel to and from Europe and the US likely excluded before 2022

  50. Well I’m from Melbourne and had been in this stage 4 lockdown since August. It was not the most pleasant thing on earth of course. However, the whole spike in July as lucky mentioned came from quarantine hotel leaks! Shambolic is the word. Otherwise we would have been like the other states methinks.
    Loss of freedom? Sure, I can’t go beyond 5k from my place, 8pm curfews etc, like I said, not pleasant. Is it the right way to do it? no idea…but the numbers came down now. Personal choice: my mother is in her 70s, I would do that for her in a heartbeat. Saying that most would have mild symptoms (implying don’t care about the ones lost), IMHO, is extremely selfish.
    Looking at Taiwan in specific, they seem to be doing well. Low numbers, no lockdown, people still manage to carry on almost as normal. That’s kind of my ideal…not medical professional opinion.
    I miss travelling a lot, a few trips already cancelled. Futures one not planning either. But realistically where would I go? Certainly not Europe or US.

  51. Not surprised. I don’t plan on traveling until then anyways. Even if we have a vaccine, and that a big if, by early next year, people who get those vaccines will be doctors and nurses…. basically the front line people. By the time it’s available for regular folks, it’ll be late fall/ winter 2021. It’s best to stay put anyways unless you know in advance you are going to die in a year because of some predictable illness.

  52. Hello why would I want to travel any where in the northern hemisphere during winter . Look how your governments are failing you.

    Look at Trump and how he is trying to convince the world he even had Covid. Not likely in my opinion I think he realised the “office” got it and the Dr ( ie osteo) fronts with another 8 “professionals” tell us that Don is okay …Seriously do Americans even believe anything that this man does! Of course he doesn’t have it … it’s sympathetic please vote for me. Why USA does not have compulsory voting is beyond the rest of the Democratic world ..

    Stay closed Australia and keep the infections out … love living on an island !

    Good luck US not going to be a good winter we will miss you here in Australia

  53. I honestly can’t believe the people on this thread, but they obviously don’t understand. I’m from New Zealand, we have the elimination strategy also, and our borders are sealed, only citizens, permanent residents, and their family members are allowed in. Nearly everyone in New Zealand supports the elimination strategy, why? Because no one there wants it to be like it is here in Europe where I live. Reading the news here in Spain is like some dystopian fiction. I wish I was able to afford to move back home during this time where everyone’s social freedoms are not prohibited or restricted. They have the right strategy, they want to protect all citizens no matter the cost. People that say “oh this only affects those over 65”, you might be right, but the scary part is now most young people are asymptotic, going about their day as if nothing is wrong, potentially infecting that elderly population. My grandmother has a number of health conditions on top of her age, and if she were to contract this then she would die. This is why NZ, and countries like it, have taken this approach. No life is worth losing, just to keep some money flowing in.

  54. Sigh!!! I hope govts around the world come up with more sensible approaches that take into account the effect of lockdowns on other aspects of health and social wellbeing of the populace. Obviously every life is important, but more often than not, the people who favour lockdowns for reasons such as…”my grandmother is ill etc” are in financially strong positions that allow them to sit at home. There are many people of low income whose lives and livelihoods are severely affected and I would say they are in a majority

  55. I have a vested interest, but I just see the Oz quarantine policy as flawed.
    1) Even when there is a vaccine, it will not work 100%.
    2) So even if Australia reopens only when there in an effective vaccine, at that point there will be surge in cases. And because the continent has been isolated, it will run quickly through the population.
    3) Unless Australian governments intend to isolate the continent forever, that will happen at some point. And in the interim, there will be a heavy economic cost. And then as other countries open up, Australia will forever lose vital tourism dollars.
    4) I therefore see this policy as mistaken.
    (and my vested interest – I live in the UK. My partner is from Sydney and we travel out every year. Very sad to be missing trips, especially as I had a points biz class booked for Dec!)
    I do hope Australia reopens soon. And I just don’t understand how the population is just accepting this closure. Anyway, they are good people, and best of luck to them.

  56. If this is what the majority of Australians want, so be it. The only aspect I cannot quite fathom is why they (or any other country following a similar approach, for that matter) respond to Covid-19 so differently to all other contagious and non-contagious diseases, or other risks in life. Trying to protect everybody no matter what the cost has never, ever been done before. Why now?

    On a different note, I think double testing wouldn’t quite work for the average tourist, it would merely allow to ease some restrictions for those who can travel anyways. Who in their right minds would hop on an international flight with the risk of being quarantined on arrival, blowing two weeks of vacation and thousands of dollars into the wind? Better be honest and keep borders closed of tourists.

  57. From what I’ve read in the news (the guardian), it says Australia will cautiously open tourism to a handful of countries (they now already opened to NZ). But Europe and USA will have to wait until 2022 unless a vaccine is available

  58. Here in Europe, we currently experience a second wave. However, there is no evidence that travel has contributed to more than 10 percent of the cases and even those cases were largely related to contagion happening abroad (e.g. at a family celebration) and not during travel itself.

    @Ed: All European countries (EU, EEA, Switzerland, UK) have mandatory universal and global health insurance, i.e. their residents will have health coverage when visiting Australia. I fortunately only had minor health issues while visiting Australia/Victoria, but I never had any problem with the acceptance of my European Healthcare, neither when visiting the Australian doctor, nor when it came to the settlement of the invoice. So there is no financial risk to the Australian health sector from Europeans visiting.

    Therefore, I think the measures are exaggerated and not based on factual information.

  59. Australia can stay closed until the end of time for all I care.

    I am, however, distressed at major transit hubs (Singapore, HK, Sydney, etc) locking out any and all transit passengers. At least Dubai has wised up with decent transit protocols.

    If the South Pacific islands ever start to open up, getting there without going thru Australia hubs will be a nightmare.

    We just returned from the Maldives. I would have preferred to transit thru Singapore but couldnt, so we had the one option they Dubai.

    The world is eventually going to open back up, vaccine or not. Countries are eventually going to want that tourism money. Just find a way, like Dubai, to offer safe transiting.

  60. I do not really care about going to Australia. I have been there 5-6 times and do not understand the fascination. I just feel sorry for Australians. In old days of the British Empire Australia was a penal colony to relieve British overcrowded prisons. It rather ironic how history repeats itself but now under their own Australian goventment.

  61. @Jackson, you can go on wanking off about Australia being a police state. The government confiscated everyone guns 20 years ago. Voting is mandatory. Even 1 case of Covid can trigger a lockdown and on top of all that we don’t have a Bill of Rights at all. We do have health care for all. And it is even against the law to vilify anyone on the basis of their race, sexual orientation or gender. Calling someone a fag here can land you in court. And as an american born citizen who emigrated here 20 years ago, I think it’s heaven. Socialism works mate.

  62. Well here in Perth (population 2.1 million) we have had 9 deaths total and currently had no community transmission for 6 months, and are enjoying going out to nightclubs, bars, footy games at stadiums with 35,000 people and weddings with no restrictions on crowds and not having to wear masks. I would prefer that than being able to do none of those things but travel overseas.

  63. @Morgan Very interesting comments. A few years ago I met some people from Perth visiting Melbourne and they were telling me about it. There are so many things we just dont know. Maybe one day we will. I was supposed to visit Sydney for the third time this past June for Vivid Sydney. I hope to return someday.

  64. I live in Melbourne and we have been in some form of lockdown since March. It is bloody hard but we have a clear plan lead by our state leader to ensure that we can get to some form of normalcy by Christmas and most of us understand that. I have never felt so connected with my community when everyone is wearing masks and follow the rules. There is a sense of ‘we are in this together’ rather than ‘servitude’ or ‘loss of freedom’. The risk of the having complications following an infection is very low for me but I am doing it for my elder relatives and most vulnerable people in our community.
    The pandemic has devastated a lot of industries and a lot of people lost their livelihood which is unfortunate but the government is doing a lot to help the economy going. Everyone affected is getting up to AUD$1500 a fortnight to live on. Things will bounce back and probably boom. I never take international travel for granted, next year I will start seeing more of this amazing country and by 2022, when borders reopen, perhaps 2-3 international travels a year instead of just one. Gotta use those stored 4 weeks a year leave somehow….

  65. A great way to destroy your already bad economy further. I’ve been to down under a few times but since this country is so large, I have not seen everything so want to plan more trips. Basically, this would mean I have to wait until 2022/2023 which is ridiculous. Other countries will open sooner (I hope and based on signs in the (social) media) which will result in people travelling to those countries. This will benefit the economy (meaning more jobs and better quality of living) in those countries. Stop panicking so much. I understand governments want panic since this allows them to implement all kinds of measures which probably will stay forever. The main issue is ventilation in closed areas. In those areas you should wear a mask WITH FILTERING to prevent infection. So no t-shirt masks which actually won’t work at all. Since this is a travel blog, a airplane is not an enclosed area without proper filtration. I wish we could look at the facts and start living again. If this is the quality of living for the rest of the time…..

    Is there still an opening on the Mars trip???

  66. The question is – what if there is no vaccine or there is a vaccine but it does not does not give you long-term immunity (or only partial immunity – think flu vaccines). Is the grand plan to stay closed indefinitely?

  67. Test before you leave
    Test at airport
    Test upon arrival
    If you’re positive you can’t travel
    Quarantine after arriving back

    What’s wrong with this strategy?

    No reason to destroy the entire tourism and travel hospitality and other industries in the hopes of bringing Covid down to 0%. I work in that industry and can’t sleep at night because I have a mortgage to pay.

    We can do this safely. We have to.

  68. @Eric “a great way to destroy an already bad economy further”. Where on earth (or Mars) did you get that “fact”. You totally made it up. Australia’s economy isn’t weak by any stretch of the imagination. When you start off a tirade with a complete lie like that, it signals that nothing you are saying is based on fact. It’s all just garbage inside your head that you are unfortunately spewing out for the rest of us to have to see. So embarrassing. So pathetic.

  69. @derek Exactly the hillbilly response expected from someone who does not look at the facts. There is enough evidence about airplane filtration system and airflow. Also, the percentage to catch it ON an airplane is practically zero. Shouting and name calling just tells more about you than about me

  70. “Test before you leave
    Test at airport
    Test upon arrival
    If you’re positive you can’t travel
    Quarantine after arriving back

    What’s wrong with this strategy?”

    For the average tourist, the only thing that will work ist testing before leaving their home country and after arriving back home. Think about it, would you actually travel if there is the risk that you’ll be quarantined after arriving in your destination country or before you leave? I wouldn’t. And know, I don’t want to spread around the virus – I am perfectly willing to follow reasonable and proportional measures to matter where I am on this planet. However, if measures get to a point where I could be quarantined at any time, I’d rather stay home.

  71. Australia and New Zealand have lost there minds. They are so far down the hole they don’t know how to get out. It’s a cop out saying each country is unique and requires different approaches. Well I can tell you the best approach Finland there is your answer. The last frontier of logic and commonsense. I was blown away when I moved here and noticed problems getting fixed by the government instead of excuses and blaming this and that.

    Every year Finland’s homeless population decreases only country in the world that can say that. Not only that the capital has zero homeless.

    But let’s keep praising the leaders that use the right inclusive language while they let their people stave on the street. The ones with the loudest voices always have the least to offer. Actions speak louder than words and quiet little Finland continues to be quietly exceptional.

  72. I live in Western Australia and up until recently no one could come in and no one could go out. Not even residents! While these measures were strong. It has meant that our state hasn’t had community transmission of covid since April. I know i’d rather be ‘stuck’ in Western Australia than in the US where you are getting nearly 200,000 cases a day now.

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