Australians weary of restrictions are out of luck, as the country’s new budget predicts social distancing will continue for two years and long-distance travel is to remain off-limits until everyone is able to get a Covid-19 jab.
Widespread adoption of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be a prerequisite for Australians being able to travel long distances again, according to the country’s new budget that was unveiled on Tuesday. Until that vaccine is rolled out, they can expect social distancing, intermittent lockdowns and a stagnant economy.
“It is assumed that over the forecast period material localised outbreaks of COVID19 occur but are largely contained. A populationwide Australian COVID19 vaccination program is assumed to be fully in place by late 2021. General social distancing restrictions are assumed to continue until a vaccine is fully available,” reads the part of the document titled “Key assumptions.”
The budget papers’ attempt to put a positive spin on travel-loving Australians being confined to the continent is to pour $250 million into encouraging anyone feeling wanderlust to explore “their own backyard” – i.e. the rest of Australia. State borders are expected to be open by Christmas, except for Western Australia, which is projected to remain closed until its election in March.
PM Scott Morrison hinted that while long-distance international travel will remain off-limits for the foreseeable future, “our borders will open up at some point to safe locations whether it be New Zealand or parts of the Pacific or places like South Korea or Japan or countries that have had a much higher rate of success” in containing the virus, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.