Travel news latest: Australia closed to tourists until 2022

Australia will remain closed to the majority of international arrivals until at least the start of 2022, the Government has said.

“We won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian on Thursday, citing “uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of Covid, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness.”

This marks a delay in earlier plans for the country, which is behind on its vaccination drive target, to open its borders by October of this year, presenting a major blow to those who have been separated from their overseas loved ones for more than a year and counting.

When international travel does restart, it is likely to begin with ‘bubbles’ shared with nations including Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam, Trade Minister Dan Tehan stated last week.

It comes as New Zealand today stopped quarantine-free travel to Australia’s state of New South Wales following the discovery of two cases announced in Sydney. 

Health department secretary Brendan Murphy said in January: “Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus. And it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time.”

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A third of New Zealanders want to postpone international travel for another year

New Zealanders remain nervous to plan trips abroad, even more so than their neighbours in Australia, according to new research.

Booking platform Expedia found that more than a third of those surveyed plan to put off international travel for at least another 12 months.

Nearly 60 per cent reported ‘stress’ around booking a trip overseas, compared to 47 per cent of Australians.

Australia and New Zealand have had a quarantine-free travel bubble since April 18, but New Zealand today suspended this two-way agreement with New South Wales following two new cases found in Sydney.

Australia races to trace source of mystery case

Australian authorities were racing to track the source of a mystery Covid-19 infection in Sydney on Thursday, the first locally transmitted case in the city in more than a month, warning residents to brace for more cases.

Health officials are baffled by the case of a man in his 50s who tested positive on Wednesday, given he had no known links to high-risk jobs or people.

The New South Wales (NSW) state health department issued an alert naming more than a dozen venues visited by the unidentified man in recent days, including restaurants, cafes and shopping centres.

Tests on the man showed a higher viral load than typically seen in infected people, potentially increasing the chance that the man has spread the disease, the health department said. Considered to have been infectious since April 30, he was the first case reported in NSW since March 31.

Follow our live Covid blog for more.

Exclusive: ‘Illogical’ plans to make vaccinated travellers take Covid tests ‘must be ditched’ 

The Government must recognise the vaccination status of British travellers and ditch “illogical” plans to force them to take tests, say the UK’s leading aviation and travel bosses.

In a joint article for The Telegraph, the chief executives of BA, Heathrow, easyJet, Manchester Airport Group and Jet2 say the “over-abundance of caution” by the Government is out of kilter with other European countries and threatens millions of Britons’ holiday plans.

They say it is illogical to require fully vaccinated British holidaymakers to pay £60 per person to take a PCR test when returning from a safe “green” list country judged by the UK to be low risk, with minimal Covid infections or variants.

Read the full story here.

What happened yesterday?

A quick recap of the top headlines:

  • Holidaymakers could need paper Covid vaccine certificates
  • No test required for holiday to Gibraltar
  • Develop ‘clear’ rules for travel, G20 tourism minsters told
  • Tourism bosses call for extra bank holiday
  • Tests cost more than the average short-haul flight, says trade body  
  • Jet2 brings forward Iceland flights to meet demand  
  • Madeira to offer free departure tests to all visitors