Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted showing any major signs of optimism for an international travel restart, but says work is being done in determining ‘green lane’ destinations.
Speaking at a press conference last week, Australia’s PM was once again asked the inevitable question of when the country’s international border will reopen, to which he replied, “I still think we’re some time away from that.
“I mean, my priority at the moment is getting Australians home. And some time ago, back in September, there was 26,700 Australians who were registered, and I said we needed to get that many people home. We’ve actually got 40,000 people home since that time.
“We have set up additional quarantine facilities both in the Northern Territory as well as in Tasmania. We’ve raised caps, we’ve run additional flights, we’ve put some $60 million of support to Australians in need all around the world, and that has been a great team effort.”
However, ScoMo noted that, as Australia and the rest of the world becomes vaccinated for COVID-19, international travel opportunities will arise.
“We already have travel from New Zealand. We already are looking at the ways that we can assess potentially safe countries for ‘green lane’ travel. We have not activated any of those,” he told reporters.
“But, what we’ve been doing the work on is making sure that we know and have a very good process for determining what countries could be green lane countries.
“And I had, you know, we had discussions with Japan about that, but we’re still some time away from that and I wouldn’t want to raise expectations. Health first, because that’s what is underpinning our economic success. I’m just going to work around.”
Last month, federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said that while “it’s not impossible” that international travel will be back on the cards next year, getting Aussies overseas in the first half of the year will be challenging.
Meanwhile, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce reckons vaccines could very much kick-start international travel before “travel bubbles” are established.
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