Australia reopening borders to tourism

Australia reopening national and New Zealand borders

Disclaimer: The travel rules and official government instructions are changing rapidly during the pandemic times and this article might NOT be up to date within a matter of hours. Therefore, you should always double-check the information with local authorities or your embassy in a given destination. Traveling Lifestyle does not take any responsibility for your decision to travel during pandemic.

The COVID-19 virus has caused massive, worldwide disruption. In addition to the millions infected and the hundreds of thousands killed, the virus has disrupted economies across the globe. Many countries closed their borders months ago, citing the need to control the spread of the virus.

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One such example is Australia, which closed its borders for international travel back when the pandemic first began to accelerate and made traveling to Australia impossible.

Unfortunately, Australia has shown no signs of easing that order. Recent announcements from Prime Minister Scott Morrison state that the country is “unlikely” to open its borders before Christmas and the border closure may last even longer, as far as April 2021.

Australia Reopening Borders – Latest Updates

27 Oct Update – Australia reopening nationally + current COVID situation

The Australian government has announced national reopening! The plan is to reopen the country for a “Covid-normal” state with a 3-step framework by December 2020. (Source: health.gov.au)

Australia has been doing a great job keeping the 2nd wave of Coronavirus under control. As of Oct 27th, there are 27541 confirmed COVID cases and 905 deaths caused by the virus. Daily rates are ranging between 10-20 cases per day during the last 7 days. (Source: Wikipedia)

29 Sept Update – Australia is reopening borders with New Zealand

New Zealanders will be able to start traveling to Australia by November, starting with Sydney! On the other hand, Australians are expected to start traveling “quarantine-FREE” to New Zealand in January or February 2021. (source)

19 Sept Update – Current COVID situation in Australia

As of September 19th, Australia has 26,885 positive COVID cases and 844 deaths caused by the virus.

On the graph below, you can see that situation is getting better and Australia is managing 2nd wave quite well.

As of now, the government hasn’t released any official statement on international borders reopening.

The border between New Zealand and Australia remains closed but there are negotiations and efforts to start reopening before Christmas. (source)

When will Australia reopen borders to tourism?

Unfortunately, it does not appear that Australia will be reopening its borders anytime in the near future and it might be as long as April 2021, as Primi Minister Scott Morrison announced at the last conference.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the country had no plans on reopening their borders for international travel, meaning that no one would be entering or leaving the country in the near future, and certainly not for tourism. Morrison added that this policy was unlikely to change before Christmas.

In July, the Treasurer of Australia, Josh Frydenberg, said that he expects the country to reopen its borders by the new year. Frydenberg did note that he expected travelers would be quarantined for a two weeks period if and when this happened.

However, Prime Minister Morrison did not address whether or not the country would be open at that time period, and what specific restrictions would be put into effect.

It appears likely that Australia will engage in a series of targeted testing measures when they do eventually reopen their borders. This will likely include a combination of testing, questionnaires, registrations, and quarantining as necessary. Furthermore, Australia recently attended a virtual meeting with a variety of other nations. At this meeting, countries discussed the ways in which they were slowly reopening their borders to international travelers and what steps they were taking in order to safely reopen.

The challenge with reopening Australia’s tourism industry is that many states are still closed. As noted above, domestic travel in the country remains restricted. Western Australia is still under a near-total lockdown, meaning virtually no one can enter or leave the area. Other sections of Australia have less restrictive lockdowns but are still difficult to enter or leave without a business or emergency reason.

What are the local restrictions in Australia?

As noted above, Australia faces real travel problems, as its various states have imposed travel restrictions that ebb and flow with the course of the virus.

As a result, not only is international tourism impossible, but domestic tourism is extremely limited. Indeed, the country has lost tens of billions of dollars in tourism revenue as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further complicating the matter is that the lockdown in effect in many states has also had additional effects on statewide tourism. For example, the Sydney Opera House – arguably Australia’s most recognizable landmark – is currently closed. Other tourism attractions have met the same fate during this pandemic, further complicating efforts to restore Australia’s suffering tourism industry.

That is not to say that tourism is impossible. The country’s tourism authorities have encouraged others to take advantage of the lockdown and go on trips within their state, particularly ones that are outdoors and socially distances. As you would expect, many outdoor facilities are open at the moment.

Furthermore, it is highly doubtful that the country would reopen their borders when the situation still required businesses to be closed. As such, it is extremely likely that most of Australia’s tourism attractions will be open by the time the country’s borders reopen to tourism.

Australia, like many countries, is struggling with the COVID pandemic. However, they are beginning to eye the possibility of reopening in the future, but only when they can do so safely.

COVID-19 In Australia

Australia, like other countries throughout the world, has struggled with COVID-19. Their experience has been somewhat different than others, however.

Australia reopening borders - covid 19 stats
Source: Worldmeters

As of August 27, the island nation has had 25,322 cases of COVID-19 – a relatively small number compared to other countries of its size. 572 people have died of the disease in the country.

What makes Australia’s experience somewhat unique is its two distinct peaks. Australia had a peak in late March and early April before cases almost entirely disappeared. However, a second peak occurred at the beginning of August before winding down again. This experience likely helps to explain the country’s cautious plans when it comes to reopening their borders – they thought they were in the clear in April, only to have the disease come roaring back in August.

Australia has moved forward with potential treatments and made a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase a vaccine once that vaccine is completed and ready for launch. The deal also covers the cost of the vaccine treatment for all Australian citizens.

In response to COVID-19, Australia closed its borders, except for students, who were quarantined for two weeks after arriving in the country.

From a domestic perspective, Australian states have the right to impose their own travel restrictions as they see fit. Some states have done so during the course of the pandemic, and at the moment, many Australians are stuck traveling only within their home state.