Prime Minister Scott Morrison has held discussion with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson to discuss details around reopening Australia to overseas travel.
Australians itching to head on an overseas holiday have been assured by the Prime Minister that international borders will reopen by Christmas at the latest.
Speaking in Washington, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated his intent to open Australia’s borders for international travel for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
When asked about his conversation with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Morrison said reopening the country at the 80 per cent vaccination mark was the Federal Government’s intention.
“At 80 per cent vaccination rates, the national plan provides for people to travel again,” Mr Morrison said.
“And that’s certainly what we intend to facilitate.
“If you’re vaccinated then … we’re expecting to be welcoming back students, we’re expecting to be welcoming back skilled migrants we’re expecting to be welcoming back – when they’re vaccinated – people into the country on that basis.”
On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, who is set to head overseas next week for critical trade talks, made the same promise in a virtual address to the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“I do empathise with the Australians who have been denied the opportunity to travel overseas this year,” Mr Tehan said.
“It’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up – at this rate by Christmas at the latest.”
Under the national plan, Australians are set to be able to travel internationally once 80 per cent of adults aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated. Australia’s international borders have been closed since March 2020.
However, where Australians will be able to travel to remains in question – and how QR code vaccination systems and home quarantine will work is still to be determined.
“People will be able to freely travel outside of Australia, with no restrictions or no limitation … Obviously, it will be dependent on the requirements that are put in place of the countries that they are travelling with,” the Minister said.
“What we’ve seen so far and all the reports back, is that the QR code system – which has obviously been modelled on the international aviation organisation’s model of what they think is needed in a QR code – seems to be interoperable with most of the countries that we’ve been dealing with,” he said.
“So that when those international borders open and as I said in my speech, hopefully at the latest by Christmas, that Australians will be able to travel with a QR code link to their passport which will be able to show a proof of vaccination.”
While which travel bubbles and exactly where Australians can travel to internationally remains up in the air, during Qantas’ yearly results in August, the airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said it had scheduled international flights to resume from mid-December, offering bookings to destinations such as London, Fiji and Los Angeles.
The rest of its international network planned to open back up from April next year.
But there are concerns the promises of overseas travel may be met with disappointment.
The Board of Airline Representative of Australia said in August that little contact with the Federal Government had been made regarding the restart, and that there are no real processes in place to allow for the large-scale recommencement of international travel.
Currently 48.5 per cent of the Australian population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 73.4 per cent have received their first dose.