Bad news for international travel

If you’re wondering when Australia could expand its border to other countries outside New Zealand, the prediction is grim.

The update comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed NZ’s announcement it will open its borders to Australians, quarantine free. It is the first time Australians will be allowed to travel overseas for tourism purposes in over a year.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the two-way quarantine-free travel corridor will start at 11.59pm April 18, with major airlines – including Air New Zealand and Qantas – able to take bookings from April 19.

Ms Ardern’s announcement comes almost six months after Australia opened up to New Zealand. Should temporary restrictions need to be applied due to a COVID-19 outbreak, both countries will provide as much notice as possible to government agencies, passengers, airlines and airport operators affected by any such measures.

But when pressed over which countries might be next to join a travel bubble, Mr Morrison said Australia was “not in a position to move forward”.

Even Ms Ardern warned Aussies: “Flyer beware”.

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Scott Morrison in the Prime Minister’s Courtyard at Parliament House, Canberra. Picture: Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia

In February, Qantas and Jetstar announced they were planning to resume international flights to “most destinations” from October 31, 2021.

Most of Qantas’ international routes would resume on that date, including flights to London, Singapore and Los Angeles, the company said.

In January, Australia’s then-top health chief Brendan Murphy dashed hopes that the rollout of the vaccine will allow people to travel overseas this year, predicting borders will remain closed until 2022.

But there was talk Australia could open up to countries including Singapore or Hong Kong sooner rather than later.

In March, reports surfaced the Australian and Singapore governments were in talks to negotiate a travel bubble which could have been in affect by July at the earliest.

But Mr Morrison said on Tuesday the government had considered Singapore and Japan for a separate bubble — among other countries — and ruled out any such prospects.

“I can’t confirm what they are at this point, we are not in no position to be outlining where the next ones will be,” the Prime Minister said.

“These things are regularly assessed by the Chief Medical Officer and we have looked at places like Singapore and Japan and South Korea and countries like this, but at this stage we are not in a position to move forward on any of those at this point.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the PM bragged about the government’s decisions to “close Australia’s international border early last year, declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic before the World Health Organisation did… to suppress the virus has ensured we are the envy of the world today”.

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