International travel ban to remain even after COVID vaccine rollout…

January 19th, 2021 | | news

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer says changes to international border closures will be “one of the last things” to change even if a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out nationwide this year.

Key points:

  • Paul Kelly says Australia’s greatest virus threat is still from international arrivals
  • Qantas brought forward international flights to the US, UK to July
  • Health experts are actively looking at other countries that could be part of future travel bubbles

Professor Paul Kelly said while countries globally struggled to suppress the virus, international arrivals would continue to be the source of any potential new cases.

“[As] the first vaccinations rollout in a few weeks time, Australia is not going to change everything back to normal,” he said.

“We are in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world.

“We are in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world.

Earlier this year Qantas began selling tickets across all of its global network and brought forward flights to the USA and the UK from October to July.

It is a move that experts, and now health officials, have warned is unlikely to go ahead.

But Professor Kelly did give some hope, saying there would be a “process in 2021 of returning to some sort of normal”.

He also acknowledged that the rollout of vaccines here and overseas was crucial to any future reopening, saying some data was showing reductions in hospitalisations in countries like Israel, where widespread vaccination was underway.

Only a few passengers are seated in a near-empty airliner cabin.
International travel is likely to remain off the cards in 2021.(ABC News: Andrew Greaves)

The Chief Medical Officer’s remarks come after his predecessor, Professor Brendan Murphy, made similar comments on Tuesday.

Speaking from rural Queensland, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said decisions on international borders would continue to be made based on expert medical advice.

“We will see how things play out over the course of the year,” he said.

Other travel bubbles being considered

Professor Kelly also said the AHPPC – the group of state and territory Chief Health Officers – had been asked by National Cabinet to do “detailed country risk assessments” to see if Australia could establish any more quarantine-free arrangements with other nations.

He said the “green zone” system that was in place with New Zealand had proven highly successful and was a good model to work on.

“We have had tens of thousands of people who have come across the ditch in the last few months and not a single case,” he said.

“We have done similar country risk assessments for many of the Pacific islands [nations] .

“We haven’t found another green zone country at this stage, there are some that are very low risk and that is playing into discussions.”

The Chief Medical Officer also said he would “welcome” New Zealand authorities to consider allowing Australians to travel quarantine-free as well.

EDIT: Bring on 2022!!

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow