Australia could form travel ‘bubbles’ with Asian countries

Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are all being discussed

<p>Australia could form new travel bubbles with Asian countries</p>

Australia could form new travel bubbles with Asian countries

Travel-starved Australians could finally get the chance to skip the country as travel “bubbles” with destinations in Asia and the Pacific are currently being mooted.

Almost all international travel is banned to and from Australia, but a list of “bubble” nations could reopen borders.

According to national broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, plus Fiji and New Caledonia, have all cropped up in conversations concerning potential destinations.

“The situation in Europe and the United States is awful, and obviously that presents great risks for people coming in from those parts of the world to Australia,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“But out of many parts of Asia, particularly in North Asia, places like Taiwan and I would also say provinces of China, Singapore… [we are] looking at what alternative arrangements could be had to channel visitors through appropriate quarantine arrangements for low-risk countries.”

However, talks at this stage are merely “exploratory”, warned the ABC, and it might be months before any changes are made.

Mr Morrison has emphasised that the government will proceed “with caution” when it comes to opening borders.

It follows the news that Singapore and Hong Kong will form their own travel bubble from 22 November.

Australia is currently in a bubble with New Zealand, but it is only one-way – New Zealanders can enter Oz without quarantining, but the same is not true vice versa.

The Australian government has previously warned residents that the country is unlikely to open its borders for international travel until the end of 2021.

The rule applies both ways, meaning Australians will be largely unable to travel overseas, while tourists will be unable to enter Australia.

Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer, confirmed the decision to wait until a vaccine is available after handing down the Federal Budget, reported News.com.au.

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

“We have taken every step possible to give Australia the best possible chance of getting a vaccine.”

The country’s domestic borders have started opening earlier to allow travel within Australia. And there’s now a one-way travel corridor with New Zealand.

In most cases, restrictions are expected to lift by Christmas this year.

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