Australians learnt today that they will be banned from overseas travel for another three months.
The “human biosecurity emergency period”, involving a prohibition on going abroad, had been due to end on 17 September.
But the health minister, Greg Hunt, said: “We’ve extended biosecurity protections to 17 December in line with medical advice.”
It is now due to end just a week before Christmas Eve.
The travel ban has been in force for almost 18 month, though some exceptions are made for those with pressing reasons to travel.
It could be further extended – but conversely, if Australia’s 80 per cent vaccination target for adults is reached before mid-December, the rule could be eased ahead of time.
At present 60 per cent of adult Australians have had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, with 36 per cent fully jabbed.
While the national policy is to reopen borders, at least to outbound Australians, when the 80 per cent target is met, there is resistance from some states – in particular Western Australia.
Qantas said last week that it intends to resume international operations in December. If special restrictions continue to apply for Western Australia, the airline said it may switch its London-Perth nonstop service to Darwin in the Northern Territory.
The Australian carrier currently runs repatriation flights from London Heathrow to Darwin, with returning citizens then spending two weeks at a nearby mining camp.
Other arrivals to Australia must go into hotel quarantine.
Australia is on the UK’s quarantine-free green list.
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