Australia Opening Borders, Freeing Citizens

Australia Opening Borders, Freeing Citizens

106

Australia will finally start letting citizens travel again as of next month! Well, they might not be able to travel between states, but they’ll be able to travel abroad.

Australia lifting travel ban

Around the start of the pandemic, Australia closed its borders, as part of the country’s zero tolerance approach towards coronavirus. Not only did this prevent foreigners from entering Australia, but it also prevented Australians from leaving the country, aside from some very narrow exceptions. Furthermore, anyone who entered the country has had to quarantine in a facility for 14 days.

This will finally be changing. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will reopen its international borders as of November, coinciding with 80% vaccination rates being reached. No, that doesn’t mean foreigners will be allowed to enter Australia, but rather it means that vaccinated Australians will be allowed to leave the country and then return.

Morrison is framing this as a huge victory, stating that “it’s time to give Australians their lives back.” In fairness, this does represent an improved timeline — previously the goal was for Australia to reopen its borders by Christmas.

Upon return to Australia, the hope is that the 14 day quarantine in a facility can be replaced by a seven day home quarantine. However, the logistics are still being worked out there.

Furthermore, the challenge is that individual states can still make their own rules, and there are varying opinions among politicians among what approach should be taken. For example, recently the premier of Queensland seemed baffled that anyone would want to leave Australia, posing the question of where people would even want to go.

This doesn’t mean Australia will open for tourism

While Australia will soon allow citizens to leave the country, we still don’t know when foreigners will be able to visit Australia. Australia has been one of the few countries in the world to prohibit citizens from leaving, even with the understanding of having to quarantine on the way back. For now that’s the only restriction being lifted.

Australia’s government has been all over the place when it comes to its plan for reopening to tourists, and it’s anyone’s guess when that will be allowed. With how things are going (which I’ll share my thoughts on below), I feel like it’s going to happen sooner rather than later, given the huge impact the current restrictions have on Australia’s tourism sector, and at this point Australia likely isn’t going to be able to overcome its outbreak.

My take on Australia’s border reopening

At the beginning of the pandemic I very much respected the Australian government’s approach to handling the pandemic. The country did everything it could to keep coronavirus out and protect its citizens, which works great in the short term. However, the government apparently missed the memo that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something that eventually has to be lived with.

Frankly this is playing out exactly as I expected. Australia wasn’t going to be able to manage the spread of coronavirus forever, and at this point Australia has by far its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic. Not only are cases at an all-time high (by a long shot), but the delta variant also spreads so much more easily, making this even harder to get under control.

It’s no surprise that now that the zero coronavirus strategy has failed (which was always going to happen eventually), the government is ready to “give Australians their live back.” And of course conveniently this comes right before an election.

In reality this isn’t doing a whole lot to give people their lives back, in my opinion — vaccinated people are just allowed to leave the country once again, with a mandatory quarantine on the return (though possibly shorter and at home). We still don’t know when borders will reopen.

For that matter, on some level Australia is now just a collection of states, with each state having its own policies. Shortly Australians may be able to travel abroad, but won’t be able to travel between states. This mess is far from over.

To be clear, I think many countries (and in particular the United States) messed up their coronavirus response, but I think the Australian government was unique in its arrogance of thinking it could “beat” the virus and keep it out forever. To this day, this is something that some politicians in Australia are doubling down on.

Bottom line

Australia plans to reopen its borders as of November 2021, as the country reaches an 80% vaccination rate. No, that doesn’t mean tourists will be allowed to enter Australia, but rather it means that Australians will be allowed to leave the country, with a mandatory quarantine still required on the return.

With Australia dealing with its worst coronavirus outbreak to date (by far), I’m curious how the timeline evolves for visitors once again being allowed.

What do you make of this latest update to Australia’s border policies?

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  1. Mh

    Despite not living in or being a citizen of Australia, congrats on a well-informed article. The title is misleading though, as you later clarify in the article that it's not a full "opening of borders", just a potential removal of some restrictions, in line with the policy announced previously.

    Certainly the article is a better overview than a lot of Australian observations on US systems would be.

    As for the comments below, they seem to...

    Despite not living in or being a citizen of Australia, congrats on a well-informed article. The title is misleading though, as you later clarify in the article that it's not a full "opening of borders", just a potential removal of some restrictions, in line with the policy announced previously.

    Certainly the article is a better overview than a lot of Australian observations on US systems would be.

    As for the comments below, they seem to be sadly mired in parochialism or political bias, as is often the case with discussion here on the topic.

    1. platy

      @ Mh

      I have provided quite a few website links in my lengthy response to the article. I would gently encourage you to click through these to broaden your appreciation of the topic. A cursory read should inform you of the limitations of the article regardless of "parochialism or political bias". If you are able to put aside your prejudice and preconceptions you might even learn something and get a surprise - the situation is...

      @ Mh

      I have provided quite a few website links in my lengthy response to the article. I would gently encourage you to click through these to broaden your appreciation of the topic. A cursory read should inform you of the limitations of the article regardless of "parochialism or political bias". If you are able to put aside your prejudice and preconceptions you might even learn something and get a surprise - the situation is NOT what is being presented by some bloggers sitting in other countries with no direct experience of local reality - and definitely NOT what is being portrayed by some American right wing media commentators. A certain mythology appears to become ingrained in the dialogue with little basis in fact or reason.

      You don't even have to believe me - follow the links - do your own research.

      FWIW I have NEVER come across an Australian based frequent flyer blog article (i.e. Executive Traveller and Point Hacks) directed at the US system and the US response to COVID that purports to some sort of informed summary or erudite opinion. Those sites are run by folk smart enough to stick with their strengths and not dabble in idle commentary on matters of which they are substantially ignorant.

      At least the article herein is somewhat less misguided than recent articles on the Australian response to COVID on two other well known frequent Flyer blogs (one European-based and the other claiming to originate from a self-titled thought leader).

      Meanwhile events in Australia have progressed in the last few days. The Premier of NSW has resigned (just as I predicted a matter of days ago commenting on an earlier article) Now also the Deputy Premier and the Transport Minister.

      Why is this even important you might ask (actually you would know if you've read the comments to the article rather than trust the article itself). Well, because the powers to manage health and thereby the epidemic are held by state premiers, the vaccination rates are highest in the state of NSW, and the PM will have to onboard the Premier in the international border plans, and the new Premier so far has refused to follow whatever his predecessor agreed. The situation is far more nuanced and complex than @ Lucky understands.

      The hypocrisy by some American (and European) commentators in claiming that Australia has failed to manage COVID is truly breathtaking when the US has 700,000 dead and rising. It certainly appears to be the case that some countries are keen to deny their own failures at containing COVID by undermining the truth of those that have.

      The ignorance in others who make crass remarks about authoritarianism and communism without any knowledge of the Australian federal and its democratic system and its embedded checks and balances is stupefying.

      Most people wouldn't have a clue about the separation of roles of federal and state governments in a health crisis.

      Most commentators and blog respondents seem to think that Australians have been in lock down throughout the pandemic. It simply isn't true. We enjoyed more freedoms than most on the planet.

      @ Lucky makes remarks about folk not being able to see their overseas families - so how do you explain that a friend flew to Holland just yesterday to visit her ailing father?

      It's your choice to simply believe what you read (which is more likely if it fuels your prejudice) or go sanity check by researching the facts at source.

  2. platy

    OMAT is probably the best frequent traveller website of the bunch.

    That said, your knowledge of matters Australian continues to be superficial and misguided. Please consider some counterpoints.

    “Australia will finally start letting citizens travel again as of next month!”

    There is no active entity, “Australia”. What you are trying to say (I assume) is that the federal government (Prime Minister Morrison) has made a statement of intent to relax border restrictions starting in...

    OMAT is probably the best frequent traveller website of the bunch.

    That said, your knowledge of matters Australian continues to be superficial and misguided. Please consider some counterpoints.

    “Australia will finally start letting citizens travel again as of next month!”

    There is no active entity, “Australia”. What you are trying to say (I assume) is that the federal government (Prime Minister Morrison) has made a statement of intent to relax border restrictions starting in November 2021.

    Understanding and identifying the respective roles of the federal and state governments is highly relevant to any commentary on Australia’s COVID response.

    (This is of note because it is a few weeks earlier than originally mooted in the national plan to relax COVID measures as vaccination rates for the over 16s reach certain targets (namely 70% and 80%) based on modelling commissioned by The Doherty Institute (as extensively discussed in posts replying to your last blog on Australia).

    This also requires the consent of respective state governments.

    Accordingly, this was to be discussed during a meeting of Australian national and state leaders in one of their regular meetings last Friday (1 October), although overtaken by the political events in the state of NSW (the NSW resigned in anticipation of being called to face allegations of corrupt conduct before the Independent Commission Against Corruption before 18 October 2021.

    “Well, they might not be able to travel between states, but they’ll be able to travel abroad”

    This statement is misleading and has the potential to spread misinformation, so feeding certain prejudiced positions and ignorant perceptions about Australia’s response to COVID.
    As a general principle, restrictions on travel are determined by nomination of COVID “hotspots”. Such hotspots can be localised to, say, a Local Government Area, effectively a city, or even a whole state. The concept of a hotspot is designed to limit the need for those living outside areas where there is identified community spread of COVID from having to comply with travel (and other) restrictions.

    But then it gets a little more complicated. There are also other relevant definitions, which include, using the example the state of QLD, “interstate areas of concern” and also “Border Zones”, the latter designed to temper restrictions on those, who happen to live close to a state border.

    Now your statement can be correct (if one state recognises an entire state as a hotspot), but the reality is far more complex and designed to allow a more targeted approach to domestic travel restrictions.

    Please refer to the government website to self-educate on such matters – that page links to those for each state:

    https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions/coronavirus-covid-19-domestic-travel-restrictions-and-remote-area-access

    “Around the start of the pandemic, Australia closed its borders”

    This is again, misleading. Australia initially closed its borders to those arriving from specified countries, just as other countries did and within the same timeframe as those other counties.

    The first wave of COVID within Australia was mostly seeded by arrivals from the USA.
    Australia, of course, did later close its borders, albeit with a system of exemptions.
    For context, note the contents of this summary of global border restrictions:
    https://theconversation.com/closed-borders-travel-bans-and-halted-immigration-5-ways-covid-19-changed-how-and-where-people-move-around-the-world-157040

    “Australia closed its borders as part of the country’s zero tolerance approach towards coronavirus.”

    That is absolutely incorrect. Step back to March 2020. The federal government’s policy was to “flatten the curve”, in other words to try to manage the impact of COVID within the limits of medical resources. This article typifies the message of the day:

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-27/coronavirus-options-to-end-lockdown-explained/12090270

    “Not only did this prevent foreigners from entering Australia, but it also prevented Australians from leaving the country, aside from some very narrow exceptions”

    Let’s be accurate. Borders were not completely sealed off. Over 500,000 Australians returned to their country during the pandemic based on Australian Bureau Statistics data on arrivals and departures. A system of various exemptions was set up to enable continued travel. You can self-educate using the government website:

    https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/travel-restrictions

    “Furthermore, anyone who entered the country has had to quarantine in a facility for 14 days.”

    Not quite true. Exemptions were made for various groups. These are summarised on the government website.

    https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-and-restrictions/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-international-travellers#recommended-quarantine-exemptions-for-some-industry-workers

    “Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will reopen its international borders as of November, coinciding with 80% vaccination rates being reached.”

    This is where it gets interesting. Firstly, you need to quote the vaccination rates accurately – they are defined against the population aged 16 or over as a hangover from a time when only the 16-year-old plus cohort was eligible for vaccination – it thereby does not take into account the 12 to16 year old who are now eligible or vaccination.

    So, 80% vaccination rate is not 80% of Australians. The true rate is perhaps 10 percentage points less, the 80% target is really less than 70%. Based on the experiences of other countries this will be insufficient to limit COVID without maintaining restrictions which the government’s Doherty Report refers to as PHSM (Public Health and Social Measures and TTIQ (Test, Trace, Isolate Quarantine).

    “No, that doesn’t mean foreigners will be allowed to enter Australia, but rather it means that vaccinated Australians will be allowed to leave the country and then return.”

    Yep.

    “Morrison is framing this as a huge victory, stating that “it’s time to give Australians their lives back.” In fairness, this does represent an improved timeline — previously the goal was for Australia to reopen its borders by Christmas.”

    Yep.

    “Upon return to Australia, the hope is that the 14 day quarantine in a facility can be replaced by a seven day home quarantine. However, the logistics are still being worked out there.”

    Yep.

    "Furthermore, the challenge is that individual states can still make their own rules, and there are varying opinions among politicians among what approach should be taken."

    Let’s adopt a reality-check here. Vaccination rates are not equally distributed.

    Within the state of NSW they vary from lows around 38% (double dosed) of the over 16s in vaccine resistant Local Government Area such as Byron and as high as 75-77% (double dosed) of the over 16s in the affluent and demographically older LGAs of Hornsby and The Hills Shire on the North Shire of Sydney.

    Different states also return different vaccination rates. NSW is sitting on 66.5% (doubled dosed over 16s) and QLD on 48%. So, NSW will reach an 80% target whilst other states could be still on just 60% or so.

    This may reflect the fact that Delta VOC hit NSW first and the federal government directed vaccine supply preferentially to NSW.

    You can see the detailed vaccine rates on this website:

    https://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2021/coronavirus/vaccine-tracker/

    This will inevitably mean it could be opportune to open the borders in NSW before other states when applying the 80% (over 16s target).

    No responsible state premier is going to open their international borders at 60% vaccination rate.

    “For example, recently the premier of Queensland seemed baffled that anyone would want to leave Australia, posing the question of where people would even want to go. “
    T
    hat has been discussed ad nauseam in your recent blog article. Incidentally, when the travel bubble with NZ was in play Qantas launched flights between my home town of Cairns direct to Auckland using an A330. A group of us bought tickets to support the initiative. These flights were removed from the schedule within a few hours of us buying the tickets due to lack of customers, despite the Australian government bankrolling 50% of the fares (we paid USD365 each way for a 5-hour business class sector). The demand was just not what people were expecting.

    “Australia has been one of the few countries in the world to prohibit citizens from leaving”

    Not exactly. Refer to the above comments on the exemption system.

    “Australia’s government has been all over the place when it comes to its plan for reopening to tourists, and it’s anyone’s guess when that will be allowed.”

    In your July article you upheld Singapore as the shining example to expose the Australian’s government’s strategy as “kind of bananas”. Presumably you are aware that the Singapore Government reimposed COVID restrictions. Incidentally, you might find this article of interest:

    https://www.insider.com/meet-the-couples-separated-malaysian-singaporean-border-unable-to-meet-2021-9

    “ at this point Australia likely isn’t going to be able to overcome its outbreak.”

    What does that mean? There is a plan to manage COVID based on vaccination combined with PHSM and TTIQ measures. Most states and territories have (virtually) zero COVID, but are periodically challenged by outbreaks due to movement of some people, such a truck-drivers (who are very regularly tested).

    The outbreak in NSW has probably peaked – the one VIC maybe not.

    State premiers will inevitably attempt to limit COVID through PHSM and TTIQ measures until vaccination rates climb beyond their assigned targets and vaccinations can take on the main burden of limiting COVID.

    “ the government apparently missed the memo that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something that eventually has to be lived with.”

    You are entitled to your personal opinion – but why do you persist in repeating these childish mythologies about Australia’s response to COVID? The federal government has put forward a plan, although it notes “The Plan is based on the current situation and is subject to change if required”.

    It’s here:

    https://www.pm.gov.au/sites/default/files/media/national-plan-to-transition-australias-national-covid-19-response-30-july-2021.pdf

    The federal government is seeking to bring forward the timeline.

    Having dithered on vaccine procurement and roll out, vaccination rates are climbing at a healthy rate and on track to reach targets within weeks rather than months.
    Borders will be opened up as vaccination rates rise, subject to the ongoing state of COVID globally.

    “Australia wasn’t going to be able to manage the spread of coronavirus forever”

    The Australian Government and the various state governments HAVE managed COVID. The plan is to relax restrictions as vaccination rates enable vaccines to take the burden of management of the epidemic.

    Meanwhile various travel restrictions continue in most of the countries of the world:
    https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/world.php

    “and at this point Australia has by far its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic. Not only are cases at an all-time high (by a long shot), but the delta variant also spreads so much more easily, making this even harder to get under control.”

    Sure, but let’s add some perspective here. The current daily case rates are roughly the same as Singapore, which has five times less population than Australia and 79.7% of its population fully vaccinated to Australia’s 45%.

    “It’s no surprise that now that the zero coronavirus strategy has failed (which was always going to happen eventually), the government is ready to “give Australians their live back.”

    No, you are arguing against your own delusional perception. There isn’t a zero COVID strategy. The federal government’s plan does not target such a goal. The modelling being used to inform the federal and various state governments does not target such a goal.

    In any case, however you attempt to frame it, Australia’s COVID strategy hasn’t failed.
    Total deaths in Australia sit at 1,321 compared with over 700,000 in the USA. Most states and territories of Australia are currently (virtually) COVID free with life going on as normal.
    Most of us (but not all) have enjoyed relatively unrestricted lives for most of the duration of the pandemic.

    Yes, international travel has been impacted for some – but to most Australians that is irrelevant (only 57% of Australians have a passport compared with 76% UK citizens)

    “And of course conveniently this comes right before an election”.

    Yep – PM Morisson will push his agenda vociferously over the next few months.

    “In reality this isn’t doing a whole lot to give people their lives back, in my opinion”
    Announcing bringing forward a relaxation in border restrictions for vaccinated locals is in itself a small step – but to be fair on the PM, it is part of a bigger plan.

    “For that matter, on some level Australia is now just a collection of states, with each state having its own policies.”

    On some level? Your understanding is evidently very vague. Australia is a Commonwealth based on a federation of states. Certain matters are legally entrusted to the federal government and certain others to the state government. Health care comes under state powers, so it is inevitable that each state government will do the job it is legally obliged to do – champion the health care of that state.

    “Shortly Australians may be able to travel abroad, but won’t be able to travel between states.”

    To note my earlier comments about how domestic travel restrictions are managed by state governments. You are being adopting a position which is ignorant and melodramatic.

    “This mess is far from over.”

    COVID is far from over. Vaccination rates in the USA have stalled. The UK still has a complicated traffic light system as part of its inbound travel restrictions. Japan still restricts entry to non-Japanese residents arriving from a long list of countries (including the USA):

    https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

    “ I think the Australian government was unique in its arrogance of thinking it could “beat” the virus and keep it out forever. “

    Spoiler alert, Lucky – it didn’t (think it could “beat the virus and keep it out forever). So, you are ascribing arrogance against a construct of your own delusion.

    IMHO denigrating Australia for its excellent achievements in managing COVID has become something of an obsession for some. When you analyse this nonsense, you find mostly misinformation, poor levels of understanding, little critical analysis and an almost absent attempt to do any actual research on the underlying facts and figures (although these are readily available with a cursory online search to anyone with even the most basic data mining skills).

    It is extraordinary that the fake narrative continues despite counterpoint facts and figures being presented (for example in response your other recent article on Australia).

    But then, if you’re 700,000 dead it might be unsurprising that some try to excuse the stunning failures of governance and stupefying selfish attitudes of some in the community than enable such by making false claims about the successes of other countries.

    Incidentally, and of relevance to frequent flyers, it appears that Qantas is going to take an each-way bet on those initial November flights by opening all seats up as classic awards.

    1. Cmdr Tomski

      Well said!! Probably the best response to Australian Covid strategy I’ve read.

      On a slightly positive note, at least CNS is a bit more survivable and a bit less smelly without the tourists

    2. platy

      @ Cmdr Tomski

      Cheers, mate.

      We've had quite a good turn out from intrastate visitors during this school holiday period.

    3. R90

      Brilliant response mate! Well done! Thank you for taking the time to stop the spread of misinformation and apply some common sense and perspective to this article.

      The constant Covid in Australia articles on this site from misinformed American's is tiresome and borderline laughable.

    4. platy

      @ R90

      Cheers, mate. Be well and travel safe.

  3. Alan

    Fortunately Australia is entering the spring/summer season unlike the USA. Here is an excellent, albeit grim statistical analysis of the situation in the US. MSM should be doing this same analysis and confronting the government for answers rather than simply parroting the govt's agenda.
    https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/covid-heads-north-for-the-winter?r=pf2n0&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=
    Australia's goal of 80% vaccination is not going to resolve the problem as you will see from the US data in the northern states. Rather than continuing to...

    Fortunately Australia is entering the spring/summer season unlike the USA. Here is an excellent, albeit grim statistical analysis of the situation in the US. MSM should be doing this same analysis and confronting the government for answers rather than simply parroting the govt's agenda.
    https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/covid-heads-north-for-the-winter?r=pf2n0&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=
    Australia's goal of 80% vaccination is not going to resolve the problem as you will see from the US data in the northern states. Rather than continuing to preach vaccination as a solution it is time to reevaluate the data and actually follow science.

    1. Nick

      Vaccination is absolutely the solution. The goal is no longer to make covid disappear -- it's endemic now -- but to make it manageable on par with the seasonal flu. Vaccination achieves that goal by reducing the hospitalization and death rates to around what they are for the flu. This first round of vaccination also buys us invaluable time to develop more potent vaccines and treatments that could reduce those rates even further, ultimately making...

      Vaccination is absolutely the solution. The goal is no longer to make covid disappear -- it's endemic now -- but to make it manageable on par with the seasonal flu. Vaccination achieves that goal by reducing the hospitalization and death rates to around what they are for the flu. This first round of vaccination also buys us invaluable time to develop more potent vaccines and treatments that could reduce those rates even further, ultimately making covid more of a nuisance than a real threat.

  4. StephanieMaher

    Potatoman and Hutch are exactly right. The plan wasn't "Zero COVID" in perpetuity - it's "Zero COVID" until we can get the population vaccinated. The real failure is the 'vaccine strollout' (as it has been called over here). "Zero COVID" makes a lot of sense as a short-term approach while you wait for the population to get vaccinated.

  5. Ethan

    I would love it if the government would expand the definition of “immediate family”. I would love to visit my elderly parents in Australia, but they don’t count as “immediate family”, so I’m not eligible for an exemption to visit.

  6. Potatoman

    Hi Ben

    Long time reader, first time poster (Australia-based). Good on you for having a crack at writing about how Australia has managed Covid - it's always good to see Australia get some attention on your blog! I also appreciate it's difficult from overseas, and I think it's 90% right, but you've missed a bit of the nuance.

    1) Australia was never advocating for "zero Covid" on the basis that we thought we could avoid...

    Hi Ben

    Long time reader, first time poster (Australia-based). Good on you for having a crack at writing about how Australia has managed Covid - it's always good to see Australia get some attention on your blog! I also appreciate it's difficult from overseas, and I think it's 90% right, but you've missed a bit of the nuance.

    1) Australia was never advocating for "zero Covid" on the basis that we thought we could avoid Covid forever. In fact, until the state of Victoria managed to eliminate Covid from the community in around November last year, nobody was seriously advocating for a Covid zero approach. Then we saw it could be done, and from November 2020 to April 2021 Australia was living almost entirely restriction-free, and people realised how good we had it in comparison to everywhere else in the world.
    2) The objective from early 2021 was to remain Covid-free for at least as long as it took to get the population to 80%+ vaccinated - the point at which a number of respected medical institutes (chiefly the Doherty Institute and the Burnet Institute) said that Covid could be managed in such a way that it would not overwhelm hospitals, that widespread lockdowns would no longer be necessary, and that vulnerable populations (eg indigenous, the elderly) would be adequately protected.
    3) It certainly wasn't "arrogance" to suggest that, in the unique circumstances Australia found itself in (ie in circumstances where Australia was 7+ hours by plane from the nearest major city with Covid and could easily close its borders), it could keep Covid out until such a time as those vaccination thresholds were met. Indeed five out of the eight states or territories to this day remain Covid-free, and will reach those 80% thresholds within the next month. So your argument that it was in retrospect obvious that this was a bad strategy misses the mark. In fact, in five out of the eight states it has worked.
    4) For the other three states (New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT), the error wasn't in seeking to maintain a 'zero Covid' policy - it was in failing to rollout an effective and fast vaccination program in order to ensure that 'Covid Zero' could be phased out as soon as possible. Earlier this year the Prime Minister was on record saying that the vaccine rollout was "not a race" and defending the fact that (at that point) only 3% of the population was vaccinated (the lowest rate in the OECD at all times this year from January to August). All states other than Western Australia recognise that Covid Zero isn't a long-term goal - but that doesn't mean it isn't a worthy approach at least until such time as there is widespread vaccination.

    To be clear, I am not saying this in support of the Australian Government. The Federal Government has been woeful (which is largely why Australia has become more fragmented and reliant on State Governments). As I say above, the vaccine rollout was incredibly slow (38th out of 38 countries in the OECD until things finally picked up over the past month or two), and the Federal Government, who constitutionally has responsibility for quarantine, did such a hopeless job that the states took it on themselves.

    Appreciate it might be difficult to get that nuance from overseas, and appreciate you writing about Australia. Just thought I'd chime in to correct some of those misapprehensions (which I get would be difficult without following the news daily). keep up the good work - love the blog!

  7. AJ23

    Ben it is not everyone in Koalastan that will get their freedom back. Just those in NSW. In other states like where Pileashit is Premier, they will be closed for quite some time

    1. platy

      @ AJ23

      The vaccination rates in NSW are significantly higher than any other state - thanks, in part, to the preferential assignment of vaccine supplies by the federal government to NSW.

      The oft quoted vaccination rate targets required to relax restrictions will thereby be attained first in NSW.

      You should thank the PM, clot Morrison, for that discrepancy. Pure politics.

      NSW has a new challenge, however, the resignation of their (allegedly) corrupt premier, the...

      @ AJ23

      The vaccination rates in NSW are significantly higher than any other state - thanks, in part, to the preferential assignment of vaccine supplies by the federal government to NSW.

      The oft quoted vaccination rate targets required to relax restrictions will thereby be attained first in NSW.

      You should thank the PM, clot Morrison, for that discrepancy. Pure politics.

      NSW has a new challenge, however, the resignation of their (allegedly) corrupt premier, the gormless fools gold-plated Gladys and the need for the party to elect a new leader and thereby a new premier - something about a hidden affair with her dopey (now ex) darling Daryl. No matter, she has new barrister boy for her personal entertainment and to defend her in the corruption hearings starting 18 October.

  8. Tim

    Yep Lucky you basically nailed it.
    As an Aussie living outside Australia - it’s played out exactly the way I knew it would too. Eventually covid caught up with them (everyone outside Australia knew it would, aussies seem to think it never would) and now after 3 months battling it they’ve realized they can’t keep it at Zero after all (duh) there was a mad rush to vaccinate (finally) and now they are ready...

    Yep Lucky you basically nailed it.
    As an Aussie living outside Australia - it’s played out exactly the way I knew it would too. Eventually covid caught up with them (everyone outside Australia knew it would, aussies seem to think it never would) and now after 3 months battling it they’ve realized they can’t keep it at Zero after all (duh) there was a mad rush to vaccinate (finally) and now they are ready to rejoin the world - well some of them. Half the state’s still think they can keep it at zero. And they probably can - if they keep shut off from the rest of Australia and the world… forever.

    Arrogance is a good word.

    1. John

      Well put, Tim. I think you basically revealed the game plan of VICTORIA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA and QUEENSLAND. All the premiers of those states belong to the same party. I'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions, because that's how it should be. All I would say is, once a person has tasted absolute power (or something close to it in the Australian context), it must be pretty hard to let go and...

      Well put, Tim. I think you basically revealed the game plan of VICTORIA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA and QUEENSLAND. All the premiers of those states belong to the same party. I'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions, because that's how it should be. All I would say is, once a person has tasted absolute power (or something close to it in the Australian context), it must be pretty hard to let go and settle back into normal checks and balances and other little pesky democratic concepts like that.

    2. platy

      @ John

      Please consider that, in short, the powers adopted to manage COVID reside in state health care legislation as extraordinary powers to be invoked at times of health crisis - these empower the Chief Health (/Medical) Officer.

      Their decisions / actions are then subject to legal checks and balances.

      In other words, if those powers can no longer be justified on health grounds, they can be challenged by legal action.

      Some have tried to...

      @ John

      Please consider that, in short, the powers adopted to manage COVID reside in state health care legislation as extraordinary powers to be invoked at times of health crisis - these empower the Chief Health (/Medical) Officer.

      Their decisions / actions are then subject to legal checks and balances.

      In other words, if those powers can no longer be justified on health grounds, they can be challenged by legal action.

      Some have tried to make legal challenge, but all have failed so far (including Clive Palmer in WA).

      Once those vaccine rates are up, those inbuilt checks and balances will become relevant.

      Basically, your concerns are thereby misplaced and melodramatic - they would also, in any case, also apply to the other states of Tasmania and South Australia who are also adopting a strict regimen in their COVID policy.

    3. platy

      @ Tim

      Australia's vaccination roll out misfired at the start (messed up by the federal government), but is advancing quickly now.

      You can expect to see restrictions ease as vaccination rates go up. But vaccination rates are not equal in all states.

      Surely you would not expect a state to relax its COVID measures until that state has attained high rate of vaccination.

      Surely you would not expect a state with, say, 60%...

      @ Tim

      Australia's vaccination roll out misfired at the start (messed up by the federal government), but is advancing quickly now.

      You can expect to see restrictions ease as vaccination rates go up. But vaccination rates are not equal in all states.

      Surely you would not expect a state to relax its COVID measures until that state has attained high rate of vaccination.

      Surely you would not expect a state with, say, 60% vaccination rate (over 16s) to open up, even if a neighbouring state has attained its own 80% goal.

      Surely you would expect the vaccination rate targets to be adjusted if real world data (from other countries) are relevant to the design of effective health policy.

  9. JOHN B

    Living in Australia and someone who loves to travel it has been hard over the past 18 months not being able to travel overseas, but given the Covid situations in most countries that i would have wanted to visit in 2020 before vaccines I doubt if I had been allowed to travel I would have anyway.

    Now in 2021 with vaccines available to nearly everyone in Australia who wants one and the improved situation in...

    Living in Australia and someone who loves to travel it has been hard over the past 18 months not being able to travel overseas, but given the Covid situations in most countries that i would have wanted to visit in 2020 before vaccines I doubt if I had been allowed to travel I would have anyway.

    Now in 2021 with vaccines available to nearly everyone in Australia who wants one and the improved situation in the countries I want to visit I am looking forward to travelling next year. I have already secured flights to Europe in April and returning via the USA in August in business on points and while I know not everything has been sorted out about returning I feel sure in 10 months or so when I plan to return they will be.

    I understand that over the past few months the COVID situation in Australia has gotten worse with the Delta variant but overall the Australian and State governments have done a good job of keeping the death rate to a relatively low rate when compared with other countries.

  10. Stuart

    Fascinating reading the comments. America seems even less divided than Australia in some ways.

  11. Mark

    How can the Federal Government open the borders for international travel when interstate travel is not allowed.

    I somehow can't see that going from Sydney to Singapore and then Perth will be allowed while Sydney to Perth is not .

    Sounds a bit like Slowmo trying to shaft state premiers once again.

    1. platy

      @Mark

      Please consider that the vaccination rates are very different in different Australian states. When NSW reaches 80% (over 16s) other states will likely still be at 60%.

      PM Morrison will try to wedge certain states by claiming that NSW is the standard, despite sending that state the lion's share of the vaccine supplies.

  12. AA56

    You might be able to visit NSW but there is no way you'll be able to visit COVID FREE WA until at least mid-2022. The residents of WA want the borders closed to protect our COVID FREE lifestyle. We're blessed to live here and Mark McGowan has and will continue to protect our lifestyle.
    Nobody really cares what your take is on Australia and how we have managed COVID. You just want in but can't. You have over 720,000 dead and counting while WA has ZERO.

    1. Tim

      How long do people in WA wanna keep the borders closed? Till 90% or 95% vaccination? And then covid comes in, cases will explode as vaccinated people also carry the virus and WA is 2 million people
      Not used to masks and social distancing. People will die as the WA had a health system beyond capacity before covid. And then what? You’ll have covid cases by the 1000a and deaths like everyone else in the world. How will WA react? I’m really curious

    2. platy

      @ Tim

      The extraordinary legal powers to manage COVID under state legislation are only defensible in the context of a health crisis - if they are no longer justifiable they can be legally challenged - this is a natural check and balance. At high vaccination rates it could be hard to justify certain restrictions...;)

    3. Nick

      > You just want in but can't.

      Your belief that that's what the rest of the First World thinks explains a lot.

  13. glenn t

    I may have the same problem as @Duck Ling regards home quarantine. Many, or the vast majority, of international flights arrive in Sydney and Melbourne, so an airport to home car trip of some sort is easily sorted. Those living in regional locations or interstate are getting zero guidance on how they will get from Sydney airport to their homes interstate (our states are more the size of Texas than say New Hampshire, so we're...

    I may have the same problem as @Duck Ling regards home quarantine. Many, or the vast majority, of international flights arrive in Sydney and Melbourne, so an airport to home car trip of some sort is easily sorted. Those living in regional locations or interstate are getting zero guidance on how they will get from Sydney airport to their homes interstate (our states are more the size of Texas than say New Hampshire, so we're talking big distances).
    All policy made on the run, devoid of details, by ' policy advisors' barely out of school, crafted for an 'announcement' by the clueless Prime Minister, or Minister for Announcements as the non-right wing press refer to him.
    The international airlines, except Qantas, are having none of it and have not repopulated their schedules while the situation remains flaky.

  14. John

    @Lucky. Despite the snide comments about your qualification to talk about Australian politics (assuming such a thing as qualifications even exist in free and open societies where all opinions have the right to be heard), I'm an Australian, and I think you nailed all the essential points: (1.) we did try a zero covid policy, but now realise it won't work. (2.) covid is here to stay. (3.) some states are more recalcitrant than others....

    @Lucky. Despite the snide comments about your qualification to talk about Australian politics (assuming such a thing as qualifications even exist in free and open societies where all opinions have the right to be heard), I'm an Australian, and I think you nailed all the essential points: (1.) we did try a zero covid policy, but now realise it won't work. (2.) covid is here to stay. (3.) some states are more recalcitrant than others. (4.) our Federation is the weakest its ever been and we are in so many ways, 'just a collection of states' as opposed to a strong united Commonwealth. I can't see where your Australian critics can pick holes in your argument. Imagine that a Yank thousands of miles away can crystalize the facts which many here at home can't see in front of their faces! For shame.

    1. Hutch

      (1) will just have to disagree with you there. A "zero covid" policy (at a federal level) while the country was largely unvaccinated, sure. A zero covid policy for the rest of existence, no. (2) agreed. (3) states have been recalcitrant since the existent of the country for their own respective purposes on various issues (this is the country where states chose different gauge railway lines). (4) arguably a weakness of democracy is that governments...

      (1) will just have to disagree with you there. A "zero covid" policy (at a federal level) while the country was largely unvaccinated, sure. A zero covid policy for the rest of existence, no. (2) agreed. (3) states have been recalcitrant since the existent of the country for their own respective purposes on various issues (this is the country where states chose different gauge railway lines). (4) arguably a weakness of democracy is that governments focus on doing things that they think will get them elected, rather than the best policy. I thought the QLD state gov would have been punished for how it's approached covid. I was wrong...

      The difficulty for places like WA is I'm not sure how they will be able to sell a state border reopening to their population, given the state seems to doing well and the that populace seems to like it. It'll be interesting...

    2. platy

      @ John

      Opinion can be made - that doesn't mean it's based on solid knowledge, basis of fact, or offers cogent critical analysis.

      Australia's COVID policies have worked. COVID has been managed better than almost every other country in the world.

      Nobody is pretending that COVID is going to mysteriously disappear.

      States governments have a legal responsibility to champion the health of their residents.

      The strength of the federation has been proven since...

      @ John

      Opinion can be made - that doesn't mean it's based on solid knowledge, basis of fact, or offers cogent critical analysis.

      Australia's COVID policies have worked. COVID has been managed better than almost every other country in the world.

      Nobody is pretending that COVID is going to mysteriously disappear.

      States governments have a legal responsibility to champion the health of their residents.

      The strength of the federation has been proven since the federal government clearly could not be relied upon to act decisively and in a timely manner - PM Morrison had to be dragged by the NSW and VIC Premiers into action and then stuffed up vaccine procurement and early roll out. Thank goodness the feds weren't in charge.

      The voters of each state have obviously respected the actions of their premiers (whether Labor or Liberal-National) and voted them back in every state election during the pandemic.

      Please see my recent post pointing out the many fallacies of @ Lucky's article.

  15. John

    Looks like phllelltt was traggered by Ben. It's his opinion. Deal with it.

  16. Elijah

    Anyone who believes this will eventuate have rocks in their head. My friend who works in Gov told me that hotel quarantine, especially in Victoria is staying put for years..

    1. David

      I doubt even the politicians know how things will shake out even a year from today, let alone some random government employee.

    2. AGrumpyOldMan_GA

      It’s not about “how things will shake out.” The common thread, to one degree or another, to a large portion of politicians the world over is control. Many, in many countries, likely welcome the perpetual existence of COVID as an ongoing cudgel to wield their control. The question is how a culture will truly exert itself as a free country. In the US, this rugged independence and love of freedom has certainly caused some problems....

      It’s not about “how things will shake out.” The common thread, to one degree or another, to a large portion of politicians the world over is control. Many, in many countries, likely welcome the perpetual existence of COVID as an ongoing cudgel to wield their control. The question is how a culture will truly exert itself as a free country. In the US, this rugged independence and love of freedom has certainly caused some problems. I don’t buy into the “COVID is a hoax,” anti-vaccine rhetoric, etc. but I am simultaneously glad I am not alone in thinking rationally about the virus and not just ceding our freedom to get power-hungry politicians.

    3. platy

      @ AGrumpyOldMan_GA

      In Australia, the extraordinary powers triggered by the pandemic were already part of the health acts of the various states. These are subject to legal check and balance and are limited to the context of a health crisis - they can (and have been) challenged in court. Those powers generally lie with the CHO/CMO.

  17. JD

    Thank you for your opinions, which are clearly labeled as such. I read many newsletters to get various opinions about travel. OMAAT is an information source I value. Please keep up the good work.

  18. Me

    I'm an American closely connected with Australia tourism, trade and investment. I recall my jaw on the floor in my early years in various meetings. Americans assume a cultural similarity with AU, but quite frankly it's not what you'd think (though always GREAT mates when having a beer and laughs together). I can see it popping up once again in the comments.

    There is also a distinct difference in the power of the AU federal...

    I'm an American closely connected with Australia tourism, trade and investment. I recall my jaw on the floor in my early years in various meetings. Americans assume a cultural similarity with AU, but quite frankly it's not what you'd think (though always GREAT mates when having a beer and laughs together). I can see it popping up once again in the comments.

    There is also a distinct difference in the power of the AU federal v. state/territory governments compared to the US, which is not often understood.

    Was emailing with Aussie friends last night. In QLD travel is limited to 5k from home, and in VIC 15k from home. My pals are so frustrated.

    In AU there is certainly a difference of opinion about the restrictions. The "greater good" of restrictions has prevailed during the pandemic, and it's not for me to say it's wrong, that's their choice. But it certainly seems to have shifted given the comments I am getting from my many business and personal connections. From an American's perspective, and someone intimately involved in many of the matters, I think the "lucky country" (AU saying) idea has been diminished in our eyes....sorry AU pals! But my actual AU pals across industries and personal friends agree.

    Not worried about the airlines returning. It's already happening or in the works. The AU outbound and VFR market will boom, and someday will be complemented by the return of the Leisure/Business/Education segments.

    1. Bee

      I don’t know who you are talking to in QLD, but it is very much so free travel here, no 5km restrictions. Did you mean NSW? Parts of that are under a restriction that doesn’t allow travel beyond 5kms, but that is outside your local government area, not your home (and most of those LGAs are decent size). Might want to check your friends know they are able to get out and about more than they think

    2. Leigh

      From a friend in Toowoomba. She was exaggerating it seems? See me other comment

    3. Leigh

      I will admit confusion about the actual limitations of QLD’ers ability to travel within the state. My close friend says it’s limited to 5k from their home, but I also know that QLD has done very well with instrastate travel….miss you Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Whitsundays and Tropical North QLD/Great Barrier Reef! And my special place that I recommend to everyone…Yeppoon and the SGBR, and the gem that is Lady Elliot Island.

    4. Ben

      There are no restrictions on travel inside Queensland.

      We had a 5km limit for about a week several months ago, with a 5-day lockdown. Got a delta cluster under control, and apart from interstate travel and having to wear a mask when moving around (eg. Can take off mask if sitting at a pub or restaurant, or can be physically distanced, but moving around through the city requires a mask) everything seems very normal....

      There are no restrictions on travel inside Queensland.

      We had a 5km limit for about a week several months ago, with a 5-day lockdown. Got a delta cluster under control, and apart from interstate travel and having to wear a mask when moving around (eg. Can take off mask if sitting at a pub or restaurant, or can be physically distanced, but moving around through the city requires a mask) everything seems very normal.

      The last few days a couple of cases have popped up and are being dealt with by contract tracing, and home isolation for those linked, and some capacity restrictions on venues.

      I can’t wait to travel again but apart from that we are open and functioning.

      So much is made about the politics, but every state in Australia has a chief heath officer (a non political appointment based on medical experience - most serve for periods well beyond any one government term), and it does appear that most of the government decisions have made based on their advice, at least to some level. The CHO’s have been doing daily press conferences alongside the state premiers.

      https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/government-actions/roadmap-to-easing-queenslands-restrictions

    5. Hutch

      @me - honestly, a relatively good assessment on things.

      Probably the biggest component on inbound that is hitting Australia will be the education sector.

      I'd still consider Australia to be a "lucky country" (but never "the" lucky country). There were flaws in Australia before covid, there will be flaws in Australia after covid. There are many worse places to live.

    6. Me, aka Leigh

      @Hutch

      Well said.

      And re the Education segment, it also affects AU real estate investment from Asia. You probably know what I’m talking about in the capital cities.

      I wonder if we’ve crossed paths.

    7. platy

      @ Me

      Thanks for the perspective - the facts on travel restrictions have become a little lost in translation. Here in QLD there are no travel restrictions within the state.

      As point of note, travel restrictions generally only apply to areas specifically identified as a source of community transmission. Sure, this can apply on a state level if the virus is thought to be spreading afar, but where prudent, state governments under the advice of...

      @ Me

      Thanks for the perspective - the facts on travel restrictions have become a little lost in translation. Here in QLD there are no travel restrictions within the state.

      As point of note, travel restrictions generally only apply to areas specifically identified as a source of community transmission. Sure, this can apply on a state level if the virus is thought to be spreading afar, but where prudent, state governments under the advice of their respective health officers, attempt to limit restrictions within a much finer level of one or more LGAs (Local Government Areas).

      Where I live in North Queensland, we have had just 4 days of restrictions in the last 15 months.

    8. Me

      Curious...what part of TNQ do you live? Have many friends in the region. Spend equal time in Cairns and Port Douglas, and of course Palm Cove on occasion...fortunately some of the nice islands as well. Sounds like the situation has been pretty stable in your region.

    9. platy

      Hi Leigh,

      I'm delighted that you enjoy our special corner of the planet! We live close to Cairns. Whether by some good luck and some good management we gave dodged most of the tougher experiences brought by COVID. There were only a few community cases in the first wave and they were quickly contained. We experienced the national lockdown for about 10 weeks back in March-May 2020.

      Since June 2021 Delta has touched our city...

      Hi Leigh,

      I'm delighted that you enjoy our special corner of the planet! We live close to Cairns. Whether by some good luck and some good management we gave dodged most of the tougher experiences brought by COVID. There were only a few community cases in the first wave and they were quickly contained. We experienced the national lockdown for about 10 weeks back in March-May 2020.

      Since June 2021 Delta has touched our city several times, but didn't spread. One ship's pilot was infectious in the local community, but fortunately had been fully vaccinated and a precautionary 4 day lockdown quickly passed. Our local (state government) hospital has had supplies of Pfizer (and latterly Astra Zeneca) - my wife and I were among the first few percent to access vaccinations (reflecting my wife's work in residential disability care). Vaccines are now available widely.

      We have had to cancel vacations to French Polynesia, The Maldives and NZ and some family reunions to LA and South America. Although frustrating it seems a small price to pay to keep everyone safe and healthy.

      One family member contracted COVID in LA, but bounced back OK. Two people known to us have died - one in Australia (62 years old) and another in Colombia (42 years old).

      Where are you based?

      Please do come and visit when you can.

  19. Crosscourt

    I didn't realise you are now an authority on Australian politics that you can even comment on Australian elections etc.

    1. Nick

      I guess you had no opinion on Trump because you're not from the US.

      He has clearly labeled his opinion as an opinion; you are free to disregard it.

    2. platy

      @ Nick

      Please consider that much of the article is presented as a summary of the situation - the opinion comes later. That opening summary is misinformed and potentially misleading in various ways.

      @ Lucky has a significant audience and an excellent track record presenting travel articles. His "opinions" can potentially carry some weight with trusting readers.

      Opinion is opinion, but surely some sort of factual basis and argument based on reality rather than misconception...

      @ Nick

      Please consider that much of the article is presented as a summary of the situation - the opinion comes later. That opening summary is misinformed and potentially misleading in various ways.

      @ Lucky has a significant audience and an excellent track record presenting travel articles. His "opinions" can potentially carry some weight with trusting readers.

      Opinion is opinion, but surely some sort of factual basis and argument based on reality rather than misconception is to be preferred?

      The article has the potential to foster misinformation and misconception about a country.

    3. Nick

      @platy, Crosscourt is specifically complaining about the opinion section of the article, where Lucky mentions the Australian elections. If there are factual inaccuracies in the first section of the article, then by all means point them out.

      > The article has the potential to foster misinformation and misconception about a country.

      Such as?

    4. platy

      @ Nick

      I've posted a rather long comment above on the article's content. Be well and travel safe.

  20. philelltt

    Ben, I'm having trouble finding articles by you where " at the very beginning you respected" the Australian government response to covid. Please give links to your "respectful" Australian articles.
    Sebastian on loyalty lobby gives exactly the same view as you on this topic. Even the same wording. So we have 2 experts!
    Australia seems to be in an interesting situation where some state governments announced that covid is endemic in their main...

    Ben, I'm having trouble finding articles by you where " at the very beginning you respected" the Australian government response to covid. Please give links to your "respectful" Australian articles.
    Sebastian on loyalty lobby gives exactly the same view as you on this topic. Even the same wording. So we have 2 experts!
    Australia seems to be in an interesting situation where some state governments announced that covid is endemic in their main cities. There is a strong push to get vaccinated, but evidence from Singapore paints a cloudy picture if that's indeed a silver bullet. And so for others in Australia where there isn't covid, there is a reluctance to open up. But plenty vaccination.
    It is exciting that you feel your predictions for Australia have come true. What are your predictions for irrigating the Sahara? Surely you know a lot in hindsight.
    For a while there was a possibility to travel to and from NZ Aotearoa without testing, without quarantine. The airline bookings were only a fraction of pre covid. That possibly points towards a reluctance in people wanting to travel internationally. This is backed up in a popular USA early retirement website, where USA members who would normally be avid international travellers feel reluctance to go elsewhere. Middle aged, middle class folk from across the USA. . Then again, NY Times is reporting that USA is edging towards yet another dreadful death toll statistic.
    But once again, congratulations in your belief you have Australian expertise. Would you say your Australian (and Canadian) articles encourage travel? If so, how?

  21. 2PAXfly

    Just some Facts about COVID and Australia. The policy is one of suppression and containment, and has never been elimination like in New Zealand. Australian border, international and state closures together with test and trace and immunisation.

    Australia’s rate of death from COVID-19 of 50 per million head of population.

    In the USA, the rate is 2,107 per million of population.

    That means death per million in the USA are 40 times...

    Just some Facts about COVID and Australia. The policy is one of suppression and containment, and has never been elimination like in New Zealand. Australian border, international and state closures together with test and trace and immunisation.

    Australia’s rate of death from COVID-19 of 50 per million head of population.

    In the USA, the rate is 2,107 per million of population.

    That means death per million in the USA are 40 times higher than in Australia.

    I will be the first to criticise our politicians for their mishandling of all sorts of policy settings during the pandemic, but their approach to suppression has been pretty damn successful. Whether you consider them right or wrong, the border closures have majority support across the country according to polling. Even in Melbourne which has had the longest periods spent in lockdown of anywhere in the world.

    I can’t wait to use my vaccine certificate and my passport to board a two aisles long haul aircraft as soon as our borders open. But criticise our politicians that have saved us from the COVID carnage of the USA? No.

  22. Ed

    ScoMo announced nothing, he just restated what the national plan says. In the meantime airlines are still waiting to be told what the details of inbound and outbound travel actually are. Qantas aside, they are unwilling to start scheduling flights and selling seats because none of the processes have been communicated.

    Too late and a dollar short once again.

  23. Dave

    https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/australia-pms-ratings-hit-pandemic-lows-amid-lockdowns-2021-08-08/

  24. Duck Ling

    I think the biggest hurdle will be convincing the airlines to re-launch flights to Australia. With the logistics involved with home quarantine, I think that demand will be very limited and many airlines will not re-schedule Australian flights yet.

    I'm an Aussie living in the UK and have a ticket booked to Australia for December. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath. Firstly, my journey is via TYO and involves an airport change from NRT...

    I think the biggest hurdle will be convincing the airlines to re-launch flights to Australia. With the logistics involved with home quarantine, I think that demand will be very limited and many airlines will not re-schedule Australian flights yet.

    I'm an Aussie living in the UK and have a ticket booked to Australia for December. I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath. Firstly, my journey is via TYO and involves an airport change from NRT to HND. Even from the outset, i'm bound to fail as Japan is still closed. Even if they re-open, i'll have my doubts if ANA operate the HND-SYD flight i'm booked on. They haven't cancelled it yet, but they have stopped selling seats for my flight,

    And then there's finally arriving in Australia. Apparently self reserved hotels will be a no no for quarantine purposes as will apartments (due to common areas an aircon). The only option is to quarantine in a private home. For me, that would be my parents home. But obviously, my parents cannot be there during quarantine, or, they have to quarantine also. Then there's the question of how i'd reach their home - usually I take an intrastate regional flight instead of the 5-6 hour drive. I don't imagine the flight would be an option now.

    The state of NSW has said they will be using combined selfie/GPS technology for quarantine checks. You'll get random phone calls with 15minutes to register using an app that takes your selfie and determines your location. Not sure how this would work in practise. For the first few days in OZ i'm sound asleep at 3pm and wide awake at 3am.

    I guess the devil will be in the detail.

  25. Chuck

    18 months in, it remains fascinating to listen to you science deniers claim that masks don't work. Countless studies, performed over decades, show that masks are effective. Does your doctor wear a surgical mask during surgery just for fun? Here's a little test you can do at home to provide that masks work: put on a mask and try to blow out the candles on your birthday cake. I know, your argument is that if...

    18 months in, it remains fascinating to listen to you science deniers claim that masks don't work. Countless studies, performed over decades, show that masks are effective. Does your doctor wear a surgical mask during surgery just for fun? Here's a little test you can do at home to provide that masks work: put on a mask and try to blow out the candles on your birthday cake. I know, your argument is that if masks work then why does COVID still exist? Your approach is fallacious on so many levels, but consider whether condoms and seatbelts are 100% effective. They aren't; they simply reduce the likelihood of problems and the severity of the results. If you cared to have an honest, intelligent debate, you would admit it.

    1. speedbird

      Surgeons wear masks so they don't get bodily fluids squirted into their mouth and nose, and so that they don't accidentally spit or sneeze into an open body cavity. It has absolutely nothing to do with preventing spread of respiratory viruses that slip through the fiber easily

  26. David (in Sydney!)

    I’m glad it’s playing out just as you expected - oh the arrogance!! Seriously, if you think that this “…isn’t doing a whole lot to give people their lives back…” then you really have no understanding or appreciation of how hard hitting our closed border policy has been! This is HUGE for us!!! And as for your comment that “… on some level Australia is now just a collection of states, with each state having...

    I’m glad it’s playing out just as you expected - oh the arrogance!! Seriously, if you think that this “…isn’t doing a whole lot to give people their lives back…” then you really have no understanding or appreciation of how hard hitting our closed border policy has been! This is HUGE for us!!! And as for your comment that “… on some level Australia is now just a collection of states, with each state having its own policies”… just what do you think Australia is other than a collection of states that makes their own policies? It’s been this way since federation in 1901!!

    1. Mattew225

      That’s what’s bothered me about these last two Australian based articles- the sheer arrogance from Ben. I’ve never noticed it in relation to any other nation.

      As mentioned in another comment, there are two states that have held elections during covid and they were re-elected. If that’s not a shining recommendation of their policies from their constitutes I don’t know what is.

    2. Bee

      Thank you, agree this just comes across as pure arrogance and trying to play off hindsight as expertise. I normally see much better and balanced insight from Lucky on this site, this is unfortunate to put it nicely.

    3. Stuart

      Interestingly, I tend to think that Australia's stance has been overly strong handed, especially in Queensland and WA. I probably thus lean towards Ben's thoughts. But I sent a link to the last post he made about this to friends in Brisbane who are bright, young, and very forward thinking. They all felt the same as you: that the writer was clearly speaking for himself, selfishly, and with no knowledge of the actual people that...

      Interestingly, I tend to think that Australia's stance has been overly strong handed, especially in Queensland and WA. I probably thus lean towards Ben's thoughts. But I sent a link to the last post he made about this to friends in Brisbane who are bright, young, and very forward thinking. They all felt the same as you: that the writer was clearly speaking for himself, selfishly, and with no knowledge of the actual people that vastly support the steps taken in those states. I find it all fascinating. And they changed a bit of my perspective. Perhaps something for every blogger to remember. They shouldn't speak for a world they are not invested in.

  27. MDA

    Please don’t suggest that the rest of Australia has the same views as Anastacia.

    You missed an important travel point. Qantas has cancelled its Perth to London flight until at least April due to WA’s border policy. They will now go Darwin to London.

    1. platy

      @ MDA

      The TAS and SA State Governments are also adopting strict COVID management policies. In fact every state leader is in alignment. Except for NSW, of course, which doesn't even have one now that Gladys' allegedly corrupt behaviour has caught up with her.

      QF will say and do whatever it can get away with in its own business self interest. Have you forgotten the extended nonsense with the WA Government and Perth Airport...

      @ MDA

      The TAS and SA State Governments are also adopting strict COVID management policies. In fact every state leader is in alignment. Except for NSW, of course, which doesn't even have one now that Gladys' allegedly corrupt behaviour has caught up with her.

      QF will say and do whatever it can get away with in its own business self interest. Have you forgotten the extended nonsense with the WA Government and Perth Airport setting up those flights in the first place?

      In any case, Darwin is close to the Howard Springs facility, if ever needed. PM clot Morrison not interested in other national quarantine / arrivals facilities (unlike the QLD premier who pushed for Wellcamp and Pinkenba).

  28. Never In Doubt

    Note that 80% vaccinated threshold is of eligible people (16+) not the entire population.

    Goal posts successfully moved.

  29. brianna hoffner

    My partner and I have been forcibly separated by the border closure. So happy this day is finally here!

  30. Another Lump

    Exactly how did the US mess up the response? So we should have did what Australia did, that ultimately failed and caused massive economic and societal devastation? I get that orange man bad, but perhaps give credit where it's due. The left was against shutting down travel from china and from Europe at the time, they called his vaccine timeline a lie and impossible, but then still everything is somehow all orange mans fault. How...

    Exactly how did the US mess up the response? So we should have did what Australia did, that ultimately failed and caused massive economic and societal devastation? I get that orange man bad, but perhaps give credit where it's due. The left was against shutting down travel from china and from Europe at the time, they called his vaccine timeline a lie and impossible, but then still everything is somehow all orange mans fault. How exactly would a non-messed up response look like, given that in hindsight all these draconian, authoritarian and dangerous lockdowns, closures, restrictions, mandates etc didn't work at all?

    The only thing that has worked has been vaccinations to reduce deaths. Masks, shutdowns, travel bans, none of it worked to stop the spread. Even vaccines didn't stop the spread. All actions except vaccinations to reduce deaths have been counter productive and a waste of time and money. So since the response included an expedited effective vaccine developed faster than anyone predicted, I'd say that response was a success. Too bad some want to keep doing the stuff that didn't work (masks, lockdowns, bans).

    1. Mike

      @Another Lump, I agree with you 100%. So many people still support all these mask mandates and restrictions and completely ignore that none of it has worked. The US Covid surge last winter was bigger than this current spike and last winter, most places were still under mask mandates and severe capacity restrictions for most activities. A lot of activities were not even allowed. It's pretty easy to look at the different states in the...

      @Another Lump, I agree with you 100%. So many people still support all these mask mandates and restrictions and completely ignore that none of it has worked. The US Covid surge last winter was bigger than this current spike and last winter, most places were still under mask mandates and severe capacity restrictions for most activities. A lot of activities were not even allowed. It's pretty easy to look at the different states in the US and notice that in most cases, the virus behaves the same everywhere regardless of mandates and restrictions.

      Vaccines are almost 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and death so at this point, encourage vaccines as a means to prevent serious illness but all of the other mandates and restrictions need to go. And nobody even mention the fact that young kids are still "unprotected" and "at-risk". The data proves that healthy young kids experience lower rates of serious illness and death with Covid than they do the flu. Kids are at an extremely low risk from Covid unless they have serious health issues. We let all of our kids live their lives during flu season so they should be living their lives like normal right now as well.

    2. platy

      @ Mike

      the very controls you argue against are the very ones which kept Australians safe, whilst we waited for our vaccines - you are in denial - you cannot erase the data on the tragic loss of American lives

  31. Oliver

    As an Australian, I certainly wouldn’t say that the COVID 0 policy has failed. Only 2 states are recording 99% of new cases whilst all the others live freely.

    1. Chris

      So do you want to continue this way ?

      And next variant will be worst and ?

      Same story will repeat and if you don't get it ... Nobody can't help you.

    2. platy

      @ Chris

      Continue what way?

      You ignore the small matter of vaccination. We will do our best to keep the community safe until the country attains a high and effective vaccination rate.

      The only thing being repeated is this utter nonsense that Australia has an ongoing zero COVID policy.

      Get over it, mate, what Australia did has worked - the country will open up once effective vaccination rates are achieved.

      Deal with reality -...

      @ Chris

      Continue what way?

      You ignore the small matter of vaccination. We will do our best to keep the community safe until the country attains a high and effective vaccination rate.

      The only thing being repeated is this utter nonsense that Australia has an ongoing zero COVID policy.

      Get over it, mate, what Australia did has worked - the country will open up once effective vaccination rates are achieved.

      Deal with reality - 60,000 Australian lives saved compared with 700,000 dead in the USA. Australia succeeded, the USA (and many other countries) messed up. Learn and move on.

  32. Troy

    Australia's covid 0 strategy worked very well, and if it wasn't for one certain Premier of NSW's gross incompetency and mismanagement of the situation.

    Every other state managed to contain the delta variant - including Victoria that did it multiple times. Unfortunately with one state basically going rouge and letting it run rampant, it was only time until it it spread across to Victoria in such numbers that it couldn't be contained there either.

    I...

    Australia's covid 0 strategy worked very well, and if it wasn't for one certain Premier of NSW's gross incompetency and mismanagement of the situation.

    Every other state managed to contain the delta variant - including Victoria that did it multiple times. Unfortunately with one state basically going rouge and letting it run rampant, it was only time until it it spread across to Victoria in such numbers that it couldn't be contained there either.

    I think our current path seems to be quite reasonable and measured. Opening international borders into those couple of states that have both high vaccination rates, and high levels of covid in the community is great for Australian's looking to return home.

    In another 2 - 3 months, the rest of the country will catch up to have a high level of vaccination, and then will be at a position to start removing state borders.

    1. Bee

      Completely agree. The reopening of international borders before interstate actually makes sense when it’s looked into. A lot of key systems (such as healthcare) are state driven so those states do need a day on who comes in to help them manage the load on the system. It pains me as I am separated from family interstate, but this wait will hopefully protect others while they get vaccinated.

  33. Steve

    But i thought all their lockdowns were working and it was the only way to #FlattenTheCurve....

    1. LarryInNYC

      Indeed, the lockdowns in Australia did work and almost completely flattened the curve until a vaccine was developed and the majority of their population received it. If not for an American air crew and a rogue limo driver (who was unvaccinated in a vaccine-mandated profession) they would have avoided the current NSW spike as well.

      Australia's per-capita death toll will turn out to be far, far below that of other countries.

    2. Joe

      That's like saying "If the engines hadn't failed, there wouldn't have been a plane crash".

    3. LarryInNYC

      No, it's like saying if one self-righteous moron hadn't acted out, several hundred people likely would have lived instead of dying. But even with that failure, Australia will come out of this with a tiny fraction of the per-capita deaths that we've experienced in the United States.

  34. Cedric

    If they impose a 7 day home quarantine… that will kill most potential travel. Heck people hate just having to test.

    1. Hutch

      As a global traveller Ben, when it comes to this issue, I'm somewhat surprised that you come across with the perception that the world views problems through American lenses.

      USA deaths per capita - 212 per 100k
      Australia deaths per capita - 5 per 100k (undoubtedly that will increase)
      (Source John Hopkins)

      ...

      Australia, having started vaccinations after the US, will in the very near future overtake the US. While it would...

      As a global traveller Ben, when it comes to this issue, I'm somewhat surprised that you come across with the perception that the world views problems through American lenses.

      USA deaths per capita - 212 per 100k
      Australia deaths per capita - 5 per 100k (undoubtedly that will increase)
      (Source John Hopkins)

      ...

      Australia, having started vaccinations after the US, will in the very near future overtake the US. While it would have been great to get vaccines earlier, I am still doubtful it would have made much difference as we still would have needed countries to actually export them to us (and at that point, those countries really needed them). Oh btw we appreciate all those vaccinations you've sold to your ally rather than thrown out...

      You seem to tie the opening of borders with the federal election. However, based on the experience of the states that have had elections during covid, the perceived right leaning states both re-elected left leaning governments. In WA (57 seats in parliament to 6) and WA has just reported the biggest budget surplus any Australian state has ever recorded. QLD has a parliament 52 seats, 34 opposition, 7 cross bench. While I can't always agree with it, ultimately they have voted for those policies. And I'm not exactly sure how the federal opposition will use borders to their advantage, as they basically haven't been disagreeing. The fundamental issue I'm looking forward to vote on ain't
      covid...

      While there is some visible pollies going off script, the plan (at least it was clear to me) was that ultimately borders would re-open once the majority of the population is vaccinated. Some states that are largely unaffected by covid, will hold out longer. I judge them for that, but again, they have functioning democracy's and seem happy with this.

      Undoubtedly, I'm sure all the governments would have wanted to get there without a delta outbreak. That hasn't happened, not much can be done much about it. But it has been delayed long enough for the impact to be reduced as opposed to if we had a free for all 6 months earlier.

      I've never been a supporter of keeping citizens out of the country. And I'm now quite confident that if I'm overseas and need help, I shouldn't expect much from the Australian Government. But the continued, often misunderstood commentary on a distant country that most Americans will never visit and which has policies that don't impact on 99.99999% of Americans is just so odd. I missed the memo that the US suddenly resolved all its domestic issues (even travel related issues)...

    2. Mattew225

      Citizens of the US generally have such a closed world & US centric view that it is unthinkable that another “western” nation be different. Look at the way they try to rationalise other nations covid reactions, crying about freedoms and rights. News flash - different countries have different laws, rules and regulations.

    3. Chris

      In the same time as living in a European country with real freedom I will never accept my government act like the Australian one.
      I never get any lockdown from the beginning of Covid, the stats proved that we got good results fighting the covid. We used only mRNA vaccines too and very early.

      It's easy to compare your stats with a country like USA, what about others?

      And I don't feel I wasted 1 year and half of my life.

    4. Hutch

      @chris I have zero desire to tell another country that they should do things the same way, because each country has its own circumstances. Even without factoring in culture etc, the simple geography provides and limits options for countries.

      Stats can be compared to many countries... It looks like the best European country has a 9 deaths per 100k (Iceland) and then you have France 175, Spain 183, UK 205.

      I'm happy for you....

      @chris I have zero desire to tell another country that they should do things the same way, because each country has its own circumstances. Even without factoring in culture etc, the simple geography provides and limits options for countries.

      Stats can be compared to many countries... It looks like the best European country has a 9 deaths per 100k (Iceland) and then you have France 175, Spain 183, UK 205.

      I'm happy for you. But I certainly don't feel the last 18months of life have been wasted - apart from the last couple months, it's been pretty good.

    5. Wanna Travel

      OMAAT is not just an American blog. He has readers all over the world and quite a few in Australia. I for one appreciate that Ben has been letting the world know of our situation here.

  35. Nick

    @ Jay- Freeing citizens is the entirely appropriate term in the context of travel, the topic of this website, and hopefully it's forthcoming

    1. Hutch

      No problems with that. Simply that the accompanying commentary is particularly righteous and continually incorrect.

  36. Jerry

    The Australian govt has displayed what authoritarian power looks and they are not about to lose that power. They were arresting people for leaving their homes. The govt itself is Spreading disinformation on the virus. What scary is this looks like a template of what could be coming to the rest of the free world

  37. shoeguy

    "At the beginning of the pandemic I very much respected the Australian government’s approach to handling the pandemic. The country did everything it could to keep coronavirus out and protect its citizens, which works great in the short term. However, the government apparently missed the memo that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something that eventually has to be lived with."

    Hmm...a little too naive a statement. While it is true Australia was able to...

    "At the beginning of the pandemic I very much respected the Australian government’s approach to handling the pandemic. The country did everything it could to keep coronavirus out and protect its citizens, which works great in the short term. However, the government apparently missed the memo that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something that eventually has to be lived with."

    Hmm...a little too naive a statement. While it is true Australia was able to navigate the first waves of COVID19 through its strict policies, the Delta variant and a really bad vaccine campaign is what ultimately undid all that effort. It is remarkable that a country as rich as Australia was so slow to purchase vaccines early. Also worth noting that Australia worked overtime to get tourists out fast and furious in February and March of 2020, notably those on two or three cruise ships that docked in Sydney with outbreaks, and set those folks loose on the world, helping to spread COVID worldwide. Would have spread anyway but this definitely was a factor in the rapid spread of COVID worldwide.

  38. JB

    This announcement was the Aus Federal government saying vaxed Australians can travel overseas again.
    The states will still make their own rules as they have for the past 18 months. It’s likely on residents 2 states will actually be allowed to leave and then quarantine at home.

  39. Jay

    I must say, as an Australian, your use of the term 'Freeing Citizens' seems like quite a right wing American POV and it's unbecoming of you.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Jay -- I'm sorry that's how it came across. I can assure you I'm not a right wing American. ;)

      The definition of "free" that I'm using is "able to act or be done as one wishes," and "no longer confined." I think that not being able to leave a country for 18 months falls into that category.

      As I always say when I talk about border restrictions (regardless of the country), travel...

      @ Jay -- I'm sorry that's how it came across. I can assure you I'm not a right wing American. ;)

      The definition of "free" that I'm using is "able to act or be done as one wishes," and "no longer confined." I think that not being able to leave a country for 18 months falls into that category.

      As I always say when I talk about border restrictions (regardless of the country), travel goes way beyond tourism. As someone with a sick mother, I couldn't imagine having to deal with restrictions where I couldn't see her for 18 months because I'm not allowed to leave my country. I imagine there are a countless number of Australians in a very similar situation, and I suspect that's exactly how many of them feel.

    2. echino

      @ Ben Schlappig - "I can assure you I'm not a right wing American. ;) "

      Apparently you are not left enough! You are going to be "cancelled", at least in Australia, unless you wise up and lean more to the left.

    3. Wanna Travel

      I have felt like a prisoner in a gilded cage living in Queensland with Annastacia as PM. Fair enough there was cause for lockdowns before the vaccines but Qld has 90% of over 70's first dosed and these are the main demographic ending up in hospital and dying. People need to take responsibility for their own health and well-being and stop depending on the govt to restrict others. Funny how Anna is singing a different...

      I have felt like a prisoner in a gilded cage living in Queensland with Annastacia as PM. Fair enough there was cause for lockdowns before the vaccines but Qld has 90% of over 70's first dosed and these are the main demographic ending up in hospital and dying. People need to take responsibility for their own health and well-being and stop depending on the govt to restrict others. Funny how Anna is singing a different tune with the Grand Final tomorrow. She would have locked us down if not for the footy. She always favours sports and celebrities, cares nothing about normal people who are separated from their loved ones. I am hoping that she lets us out when we reach 80%. I don't know what options Qlders will have if airlines don't fly to BNE. Can we fly to SYD, MEL and then a connecting flight to BNE? I don't mind 7 day home quarantine, I am retired. This won't work for tourists and people in jobs that can't WFH.

    4. platy

      @ Wanna Travel

      Well, no mate, the Delta VOC is is hospitalising and taking out people of all ages.

      And, no, until those vaccination rates are much higher you don't get to imperil the lives of others.

      In any case, what are you whingeing about - if you are based in QLD there are no substantive restrictions on your daily life.

      In the time you've spent whining about your Premier you could haver researched...

      @ Wanna Travel

      Well, no mate, the Delta VOC is is hospitalising and taking out people of all ages.

      And, no, until those vaccination rates are much higher you don't get to imperil the lives of others.

      In any case, what are you whingeing about - if you are based in QLD there are no substantive restrictions on your daily life.

      In the time you've spent whining about your Premier you could haver researched what you need to do to leave and re-enter the country.

      If you are so desperate to travel, instead of crying like a man baby, why don't you dust off your QF points and jump a flight to London or LA? I'm reading that the November flights will offer classic award seats for all seats. You could be overseas in just a few weeks time, assuming you've bothered to get your vaccinations.

      Of course, if you go to the UK, you'll have to comply with the inbound entry requirements. changing on 4 October:

      If you qualify as fully vaccinated you will have to:

      book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England
      complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
      take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after you arrive in England
      Under the new rules, you will not need to:

      take a pre-departure test
      take a day 8 COVID-19 test
      quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days after you arrive in England
      You must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:

      forename and surname(s)
      date of birth
      vaccine brand and manufacturer

      That's the Uk stuff to help you out...

    5. 2PAXfly

      As an Australian having dealt with a parental death, a family home sale, and an estate settling during our international and state border restrictions and various lockdowns, yes, it has not been easy. However, let's just remember the ability to travel cheaply and internationally is relatively new - basically since the 1970s. Before that, it was almost unthinkable for most people to visit family internationally for a death or birth or wedding, or severe sickness.

    6. platy

      @ Ben Schlappig

      A friend flew out just today to visit her sick father in Holland having easily secured a travel exemption. Your comment is based on inaccurate presumption.

    7. Jan

      Lol “Right-wing Americans” don’t have a monopoly on words/statements with “free” or “freedom” in it. I think you are consuming too much media.

    8. Mike

      Right Wing American POV? Oh I think a lot more than just right wing people have viewed Australia's restrictions as completely authoritarian and a prime example of government overreach. I am not a right winger by any means and apart from very early on in the pandemic, I've viewed Australia's strategy as completely unhinged from reality. Sure the lockdowns worked for awhile but everyone with half of a brain knew that this was a completely...

      Right Wing American POV? Oh I think a lot more than just right wing people have viewed Australia's restrictions as completely authoritarian and a prime example of government overreach. I am not a right winger by any means and apart from very early on in the pandemic, I've viewed Australia's strategy as completely unhinged from reality. Sure the lockdowns worked for awhile but everyone with half of a brain knew that this was a completely unsustainable approach and that eventually, Australia too would have a massive outbreak just like everywhere else. At this point, the every country just needs to vaccinate as many people as possible by the end of this year and come Jan 1, 2022, normal life needs to return. Enough is enough.

    9. Hutch

      I'm not going to get involved in name slinging on right v left, but evidently you are not Australian. You state "...I think a lot more than just right wing people have viewed Australia's restrictions as completely authoritarian and a prime example of government overreach".

      Isn't it for Australians, a country with a long history of free and fair elections, to make that determination?

    10. LarryInNYC

      I can't seem to find recent polling data, but in May the Australian government's response to Covid had a 95% approval rating within Australia. 7% said they though the US was doing a good job.

    11. platy

      @ LarryInNYC

      Just a small point - health care is managed by the states - their electorates have endorsed their policies in managing COVID in each state election held during COVID and returned incumbent governments.

      The federal government is responsible for vaccine procurement and initial roll out and fluffed the job. They are way behind in the polls and a federal face election in a few months.

    12. platy

      @ Mike

      Most Australians clearly do not think it "unhinged" to manage COVID effectively and save an estimated 60,000 Australian lives.

      Most of us have been living without restrictions for most of the pandemic.

      Most states/ territories have (virtually) zero COVID cases despite being challenged by the Delta VOC.

      People have been patiently waiting for the vaccination rates to attain effective levels to enable any restrictions remaining in some parts of the country to be...

      @ Mike

      Most Australians clearly do not think it "unhinged" to manage COVID effectively and save an estimated 60,000 Australian lives.

      Most of us have been living without restrictions for most of the pandemic.

      Most states/ territories have (virtually) zero COVID cases despite being challenged by the Delta VOC.

      People have been patiently waiting for the vaccination rates to attain effective levels to enable any restrictions remaining in some parts of the country to be relaxed and international borders to be slowly reopened.

      Government actions are subject to legal check and balance. The respective state health legislation is quite specific - powers only apply in times of health crisis and apply to the medical offers.

      So, basically, you don't need to fret about authoritarian government over reach.

      Your concern would be better directed at the 700,000 COVID American dead and whether your obsession with personal freedoms (or temporary lack thereof) justify the outcome.

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philelltt

Ben, I'm having trouble finding articles by you where " at the very beginning you respected" the Australian government response to covid. Please give links to your "respectful" Australian articles. Sebastian on loyalty lobby gives exactly the same view as you on this topic. Even the same wording. So we have 2 experts! Australia seems to be in an interesting situation where some state governments announced that covid is endemic in their main cities. There is a strong push to get vaccinated, but evidence from Singapore paints a cloudy picture if that's indeed a silver bullet. And so for others in Australia where there isn't covid, there is a reluctance to open up. But plenty vaccination. It is exciting that you feel your predictions for Australia have come true. What are your predictions for irrigating the Sahara? Surely you know a lot in hindsight. For a while there was a possibility to travel to and from NZ Aotearoa without testing, without quarantine. The airline bookings were only a fraction of pre covid. That possibly points towards a reluctance in people wanting to travel internationally. This is backed up in a popular USA early retirement website, where USA members who would normally be avid international travellers feel reluctance to go elsewhere. Middle aged, middle class folk from across the USA. . Then again, NY Times is reporting that USA is edging towards yet another dreadful death toll statistic. But once again, congratulations in your belief you have Australian expertise. Would you say your Australian (and Canadian) articles encourage travel? If so, how?

platy

OMAT is probably the best frequent traveller website of the bunch. That said, your knowledge of matters Australian continues to be superficial and misguided. Please consider some counterpoints. “Australia will finally start letting citizens travel again as of next month!” There is no active entity, “Australia”. What you are trying to say (I assume) is that the federal government (Prime Minister Morrison) has made a statement of intent to relax border restrictions starting in November 2021. Understanding and identifying the respective roles of the federal and state governments is highly relevant to any commentary on Australia’s COVID response. (This is of note because it is a few weeks earlier than originally mooted in the national plan to relax COVID measures as vaccination rates for the over 16s reach certain targets (namely 70% and 80%) based on modelling commissioned by The Doherty Institute (as extensively discussed in posts replying to your last blog on Australia). This also requires the consent of respective state governments. Accordingly, this was to be discussed during a meeting of Australian national and state leaders in one of their regular meetings last Friday (1 October), although overtaken by the political events in the state of NSW (the NSW resigned in anticipation of being called to face allegations of corrupt conduct before the Independent Commission Against Corruption before 18 October 2021. “Well, they might not be able to travel between states, but they’ll be able to travel abroad” This statement is misleading and has the potential to spread misinformation, so feeding certain prejudiced positions and ignorant perceptions about Australia’s response to COVID. As a general principle, restrictions on travel are determined by nomination of COVID “hotspots”. Such hotspots can be localised to, say, a Local Government Area, effectively a city, or even a whole state. The concept of a hotspot is designed to limit the need for those living outside areas where there is identified community spread of COVID from having to comply with travel (and other) restrictions. But then it gets a little more complicated. There are also other relevant definitions, which include, using the example the state of QLD, “interstate areas of concern” and also “Border Zones”, the latter designed to temper restrictions on those, who happen to live close to a state border. Now your statement can be correct (if one state recognises an entire state as a hotspot), but the reality is far more complex and designed to allow a more targeted approach to domestic travel restrictions. Please refer to the government website to self-educate on such matters – that page links to those for each state: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions/coronavirus-covid-19-domestic-travel-restrictions-and-remote-area-access “Around the start of the pandemic, Australia closed its borders” This is again, misleading. Australia initially closed its borders to those arriving from specified countries, just as other countries did and within the same timeframe as those other counties. The first wave of COVID within Australia was mostly seeded by arrivals from the USA. Australia, of course, did later close its borders, albeit with a system of exemptions. For context, note the contents of this summary of global border restrictions: https://theconversation.com/closed-borders-travel-bans-and-halted-immigration-5-ways-covid-19-changed-how-and-where-people-move-around-the-world-157040 “Australia closed its borders as part of the country’s zero tolerance approach towards coronavirus.” That is absolutely incorrect. Step back to March 2020. The federal government’s policy was to “flatten the curve”, in other words to try to manage the impact of COVID within the limits of medical resources. This article typifies the message of the day: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-27/coronavirus-options-to-end-lockdown-explained/12090270 “Not only did this prevent foreigners from entering Australia, but it also prevented Australians from leaving the country, aside from some very narrow exceptions” Let’s be accurate. Borders were not completely sealed off. Over 500,000 Australians returned to their country during the pandemic based on Australian Bureau Statistics data on arrivals and departures. A system of various exemptions was set up to enable continued travel. You can self-educate using the government website: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/travel-restrictions “Furthermore, anyone who entered the country has had to quarantine in a facility for 14 days.” Not quite true. Exemptions were made for various groups. These are summarised on the government website. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-and-restrictions/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-international-travellers#recommended-quarantine-exemptions-for-some-industry-workers “Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will reopen its international borders as of November, coinciding with 80% vaccination rates being reached.” This is where it gets interesting. Firstly, you need to quote the vaccination rates accurately – they are defined against the population aged 16 or over as a hangover from a time when only the 16-year-old plus cohort was eligible for vaccination – it thereby does not take into account the 12 to16 year old who are now eligible or vaccination. So, 80% vaccination rate is not 80% of Australians. The true rate is perhaps 10 percentage points less, the 80% target is really less than 70%. Based on the experiences of other countries this will be insufficient to limit COVID without maintaining restrictions which the government’s Doherty Report refers to as PHSM (Public Health and Social Measures and TTIQ (Test, Trace, Isolate Quarantine). “No, that doesn’t mean foreigners will be allowed to enter Australia, but rather it means that vaccinated Australians will be allowed to leave the country and then return.” Yep. “Morrison is framing this as a huge victory, stating that “it’s time to give Australians their lives back.” In fairness, this does represent an improved timeline — previously the goal was for Australia to reopen its borders by Christmas.” Yep. “Upon return to Australia, the hope is that the 14 day quarantine in a facility can be replaced by a seven day home quarantine. However, the logistics are still being worked out there.” Yep. "Furthermore, the challenge is that individual states can still make their own rules, and there are varying opinions among politicians among what approach should be taken." Let’s adopt a reality-check here. Vaccination rates are not equally distributed. Within the state of NSW they vary from lows around 38% (double dosed) of the over 16s in vaccine resistant Local Government Area such as Byron and as high as 75-77% (double dosed) of the over 16s in the affluent and demographically older LGAs of Hornsby and The Hills Shire on the North Shire of Sydney. Different states also return different vaccination rates. NSW is sitting on 66.5% (doubled dosed over 16s) and QLD on 48%. So, NSW will reach an 80% target whilst other states could be still on just 60% or so. This may reflect the fact that Delta VOC hit NSW first and the federal government directed vaccine supply preferentially to NSW. You can see the detailed vaccine rates on this website: https://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2021/coronavirus/vaccine-tracker/ This will inevitably mean it could be opportune to open the borders in NSW before other states when applying the 80% (over 16s target). No responsible state premier is going to open their international borders at 60% vaccination rate. “For example, recently the premier of Queensland seemed baffled that anyone would want to leave Australia, posing the question of where people would even want to go. “ T hat has been discussed ad nauseam in your recent blog article. Incidentally, when the travel bubble with NZ was in play Qantas launched flights between my home town of Cairns direct to Auckland using an A330. A group of us bought tickets to support the initiative. These flights were removed from the schedule within a few hours of us buying the tickets due to lack of customers, despite the Australian government bankrolling 50% of the fares (we paid USD365 each way for a 5-hour business class sector). The demand was just not what people were expecting. “Australia has been one of the few countries in the world to prohibit citizens from leaving” Not exactly. Refer to the above comments on the exemption system. “Australia’s government has been all over the place when it comes to its plan for reopening to tourists, and it’s anyone’s guess when that will be allowed.” In your July article you upheld Singapore as the shining example to expose the Australian’s government’s strategy as “kind of bananas”. Presumably you are aware that the Singapore Government reimposed COVID restrictions. Incidentally, you might find this article of interest: https://www.insider.com/meet-the-couples-separated-malaysian-singaporean-border-unable-to-meet-2021-9 “ at this point Australia likely isn’t going to be able to overcome its outbreak.” What does that mean? There is a plan to manage COVID based on vaccination combined with PHSM and TTIQ measures. Most states and territories have (virtually) zero COVID, but are periodically challenged by outbreaks due to movement of some people, such a truck-drivers (who are very regularly tested). The outbreak in NSW has probably peaked – the one VIC maybe not. State premiers will inevitably attempt to limit COVID through PHSM and TTIQ measures until vaccination rates climb beyond their assigned targets and vaccinations can take on the main burden of limiting COVID. “ the government apparently missed the memo that coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, and it’s something that eventually has to be lived with.” You are entitled to your personal opinion – but why do you persist in repeating these childish mythologies about Australia’s response to COVID? The federal government has put forward a plan, although it notes “The Plan is based on the current situation and is subject to change if required”. It’s here: https://www.pm.gov.au/sites/default/files/media/national-plan-to-transition-australias-national-covid-19-response-30-july-2021.pdf The federal government is seeking to bring forward the timeline. Having dithered on vaccine procurement and roll out, vaccination rates are climbing at a healthy rate and on track to reach targets within weeks rather than months. Borders will be opened up as vaccination rates rise, subject to the ongoing state of COVID globally. “Australia wasn’t going to be able to manage the spread of coronavirus forever” The Australian Government and the various state governments HAVE managed COVID. The plan is to relax restrictions as vaccination rates enable vaccines to take the burden of management of the epidemic. Meanwhile various travel restrictions continue in most of the countries of the world: https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/world.php “and at this point Australia has by far its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic. Not only are cases at an all-time high (by a long shot), but the delta variant also spreads so much more easily, making this even harder to get under control.” Sure, but let’s add some perspective here. The current daily case rates are roughly the same as Singapore, which has five times less population than Australia and 79.7% of its population fully vaccinated to Australia’s 45%. “It’s no surprise that now that the zero coronavirus strategy has failed (which was always going to happen eventually), the government is ready to “give Australians their live back.” No, you are arguing against your own delusional perception. There isn’t a zero COVID strategy. The federal government’s plan does not target such a goal. The modelling being used to inform the federal and various state governments does not target such a goal. In any case, however you attempt to frame it, Australia’s COVID strategy hasn’t failed. Total deaths in Australia sit at 1,321 compared with over 700,000 in the USA. Most states and territories of Australia are currently (virtually) COVID free with life going on as normal. Most of us (but not all) have enjoyed relatively unrestricted lives for most of the duration of the pandemic. Yes, international travel has been impacted for some – but to most Australians that is irrelevant (only 57% of Australians have a passport compared with 76% UK citizens) “And of course conveniently this comes right before an election”. Yep – PM Morisson will push his agenda vociferously over the next few months. “In reality this isn’t doing a whole lot to give people their lives back, in my opinion” Announcing bringing forward a relaxation in border restrictions for vaccinated locals is in itself a small step – but to be fair on the PM, it is part of a bigger plan. “For that matter, on some level Australia is now just a collection of states, with each state having its own policies.” On some level? Your understanding is evidently very vague. Australia is a Commonwealth based on a federation of states. Certain matters are legally entrusted to the federal government and certain others to the state government. Health care comes under state powers, so it is inevitable that each state government will do the job it is legally obliged to do – champion the health care of that state. “Shortly Australians may be able to travel abroad, but won’t be able to travel between states.” To note my earlier comments about how domestic travel restrictions are managed by state governments. You are being adopting a position which is ignorant and melodramatic. “This mess is far from over.” COVID is far from over. Vaccination rates in the USA have stalled. The UK still has a complicated traffic light system as part of its inbound travel restrictions. Japan still restricts entry to non-Japanese residents arriving from a long list of countries (including the USA): https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html “ I think the Australian government was unique in its arrogance of thinking it could “beat” the virus and keep it out forever. “ Spoiler alert, Lucky – it didn’t (think it could “beat the virus and keep it out forever). So, you are ascribing arrogance against a construct of your own delusion. IMHO denigrating Australia for its excellent achievements in managing COVID has become something of an obsession for some. When you analyse this nonsense, you find mostly misinformation, poor levels of understanding, little critical analysis and an almost absent attempt to do any actual research on the underlying facts and figures (although these are readily available with a cursory online search to anyone with even the most basic data mining skills). It is extraordinary that the fake narrative continues despite counterpoint facts and figures being presented (for example in response your other recent article on Australia). But then, if you’re 700,000 dead it might be unsurprising that some try to excuse the stunning failures of governance and stupefying selfish attitudes of some in the community than enable such by making false claims about the successes of other countries. Incidentally, and of relevance to frequent flyers, it appears that Qantas is going to take an each-way bet on those initial November flights by opening all seats up as classic awards.

John

@Lucky. Despite the snide comments about your qualification to talk about Australian politics (assuming such a thing as qualifications even exist in free and open societies where all opinions have the right to be heard), I'm an Australian, and I think you nailed all the essential points: (1.) we did try a zero covid policy, but now realise it won't work. (2.) covid is here to stay. (3.) some states are more recalcitrant than others. (4.) our Federation is the weakest its ever been and we are in so many ways, 'just a collection of states' as opposed to a strong united Commonwealth. I can't see where your Australian critics can pick holes in your argument. Imagine that a Yank thousands of miles away can crystalize the facts which many here at home can't see in front of their faces! For shame.

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