Even if most of its population get vaccinated this year, Australia is unlikely to fully reopen its borders in 2021 according to the country’s Department of Health Secretary, Brendan Murphy.
Professor Murphy told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “I think that we'll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions, even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated.
“We don't know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus.”
The health official, who was Australia’s chief medical officer at the start of the pandemic last year, also said that given how fast the world is changing, the rules are being “made up as we go”.
Strict border restrictions are currently being enforced in Australia, which has remained largely closed to international travellers since March 2020.
A small list of exemptions apply, including Australian citizens and permanent residents, as well as their families.
Certain workers and students may also be able to apply for individual exemption to enter Australia.
Those travelling to Australia need to have evidence of a negative Covid PCR test result, taken within 72 hours of their scheduled departure.
With the exception of those travelling from New Zealand, which Australia has recently established a travel bubble with, all arrivals must undergo 14 days of mandatory self isolation at a designated facility, such as a quarantine hotel.
Even then, there is currently a cap on the number of international arrivals permitted in Australia, with the numbers temporarily halved in the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia in response to new variants of coronavirus.
The news will come as a disappointment for many as the country’s national carrier, Qantas, had already started to sell international flights departing July 2021, although travel was dependant on borders being open.
Qantas’ boss previously suggested that only those who have been vaccinated would be allowed to travel with the airline.
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