There is a silver lining for the return from overseas vacations next year, with more details revealed on how the government might make decisions about which countries Australians would be allowed to visit.
Where we go will depend on whether the destination country has a substantial deployment of a COVID vaccine.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the prospect of an international holiday 2021 was “not impossible”.
It comes as state governments bicker again across borders, with calls for a radical overhaul of hotel quarantine for returning travelers.
Australians are prohibited from flying abroad, except for those who benefit from special government exemptions.
However, faster than expected progress with COVID vaccines has potentially accelerated that timeline, with the federal government considering letting Australians go abroad in the latter part of next year.
“It is not impossible, and I would like to think that we will be so successful in terms of both vaccines and their effectiveness,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News on Sunday.
“I think the first half [of 2021] can be difficult. But let’s just see how we’re doing in terms of how quickly we can secure, distribute, get that use for vaccines with the confidence and safety that everyone needs to make the vaccine itself safe.
He said it was also crucial that “people don’t spread COVID when they return,” hinting at the possibility of travelers catching the virus overseas.
Australia is working on a non-quarantine travel bubble with New Zealand, while similar arrangements have been considered with some countries in the Pacific and Asia.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said there were still “considerable risks underway” around international travel and medical authorities were still figuring out exactly how international travel would work, vaccination rates part of the equation.
“The chief medical officer assesses each country individually, looking at a number of factors, including the overall number of cases and also their own border checks. The deployment of vaccination in a country would be a consideration, in the event of the availability of a vaccine or vaccines ”, declared a spokesperson for the Minister. TBEN.
“It is only when our experts believe that the situation in a country presents a very low risk, which can be managed, that we would be willing to consider traveling without quarantine.”
Mr Hunt’s office said authorities “will continue to assess whether other countries should have similar arrangements” but that “the government’s goal remains to bring Australians home from abroad”.
NSW quarantine outcry
But even that remains a problem, with state governments at odds over how to treat Australians returning from overseas.
The federal government has been criticized for not doing more to bring the 30,000 stranded Australians home by Christmas, and has pressured state governments to accept more arrivals through airports.
Last week, Victoria agreed to resume welcoming a small number of arrivals.
But now New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to allocate a third of the quarantine spaces in hotels across her state to international students and skilled migrants, and Australia’s opposition leader from South wants his state to reassess its use of the quarantine program.
The measures would reduce the number of overseas Australians able to return home and go directly against a national cabinet agreement on November 13 that returning Australians should be given top priority for quarantine in hotels.
Ms Berejiklian said she wanted nearly 1,000 of the state’s 3,000 weekly capacities to be allocated to internationals, with the aim of “encouraging commercial activity” and supporting universities.
She said NSW had welcomed “more Australians than all other states put together,” and that her state deserved to focus on its own economy for a while.
“Victoria is out of action. Other states are just not doing their fair share, ”said the Prime Minister.
“I don’t want universities to fire hundreds and hundreds of workers because international students can’t come back.”
The southern NSW border was also opened on Sunday, after the 23rd consecutive day of no new COVID cases in Victoria.
Calls for hotel reform
Also on Sunday, South Australia emerged from its hard lockdown after state health officials overturned the decision following revelations that a COVID case lied about how they contracted the disease. virus.
They had worked in a pizzeria linked to the epidemic. The police are investigating.
The SA recorded only one new case on Sunday, inside the hotel’s quarantine.
It comes as SA Labor leader Peter Malinauskas called on Prime Minister Steven Marshall and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to reform the hotel quarantine program.
The recent Adelaide outbreak, which led to Australia’s toughest (and shortest) lockdown, came after hotel quarantine workers transported the virus to their second job in a pizza restaurant.
Here are my remarks from my press conference at 9:30 am this morning, calling for an end to medi hotels in their current format, until there is a safer solution. You might notice that I didn’t attack Steven Marshall once.
Full video: https://t.co/L0xR9m0vsW pic.twitter.com/BkogahJAol
– Peter Malinauskas (@PMalinauskasMP) November 22, 2020
“We now need to learn from the failures of media hotels in Melbourne and Adelaide, and come up with an alternative model,” said Malinauskas.
He said the model “of using CBD hotels with contracted security personnel and occasional auxiliary labor, is just not safe.”
Numerous talks have been sparked after another case where a worker spread the virus between separate workplaces, with calls for hotel quarantine staff to be paid enough and to have safe working conditions so that he does not need to look for additional employment.
Prime Minister Marshall said he was “disappointed” with calls from the Labor Party, saying it “made no sense”.
“I think this is just a blatant attempt, quite frankly, to push fear and division,” he said.