Health Minister Greg Hunt has dampened international travel hopes even further, claiming even after the whole country is vaccinated against COVID-19 there is no “guarantee” borders will reopen.
With Australia’s vaccine rollout being pushed even further behind schedule due to AstraZeneca now only being recommended for people older than 50, there have been growing concerns about what it means for international travel.
However, Mr Hunt said having the majority of the population vaccinated isn’t a magic key that will unlock international travel again.
“Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up. And this was a discussion that in fact I had with Professor Murphy in just the last 24 hours, that if the whole country were vaccinated, you couldn’t just open the borders,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr Hunt said the decision on whether to keep the border closed or reopen it is based on a series of factors that must be carefully considered by officials.
“We still have to look at a series of different factors: transmission, longevity and the global impact. And those are factors which the world is learning about.”
Though Mr Hunt dashed the hopes of Aussies looking forward to jetsetting across the globe, he did hint that more travel bubbles could be established in the near future.
A two-way travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand is set to begin at 11.59pm on April 18, meaning visitors will be able to travel from both countries will be exempt from hotel quarantine.
The government is now turning its attention to other areas in the Pacific region that Australia might be able to make similar arrangements with.
“We’re then looking at other countries within the Pacific and within the region that are potentially low-transmission environments, and therefore Australia can do that,” he said.