Huge push to open international borders by October amid fears Australians could be stuck on a ‘prison island’ for YEARS despite the world moving on from the pandemic
- Airlines CEO’s are pushing for international travel to commence by October
- Health Minister Greg Hunt said borders may not open when vaccine rollout ends
- Virgin Australia CEO wants overseas travel to start before Aussies are immunised
Australia’s airlines want international borders open in October regardless of whether the country’s derailed vaccine program is complete.
Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka called for the country to remove borders once the country’s most vulnerable people are immunised.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce also reaffirmed his desire for international holidays to resume by October, as predicted in the airline’s half-year report.
But the government refuses to guarantee when all Australians will be vaccinated and Health Minister Greg Hunt said even then the borders may stay shut.
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlick (pictured) wants borders removed as soon as Australia’s most vulnerable people are immunised
‘Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up,’ he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
‘We’re then looking at other countries within the Pacific and within the region that are potentially low-transmission environments,’ he said.
‘We still have to look at a series of different factors: transmission, longevity and the global impact [of opening borders].’
Ms Hrdlicka on Thursday called travel to be allowed between Australia and countries like the Britain and US within a few months.
‘The New Zealand bubble’s a nice first step, but there are lots of communities around us that are well ahead of us on vaccine programs, like the US and the UK and Israel, Singapore,’ she said.
Mr Joyce said Qantas was preparing for international flights to commence on October 31, the date the government initially expected the rollout to finish.
‘While there have clearly been some speedbumps with the vaccine rollout, we are still planning for international flights to resume in late October,’ he said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) says even a fully vaccinated population does not guarantee open borders
But Australia Medical Association vice president Chris Moy told Daily Mail Australia the government should not overpromise on border openings because they don’t know everything about the vaccines.
‘The airlines will have an interest to open up, you can understand its their business [but it is reasonable not to overpromise at the moment,’ he said.
‘The vaccine rollout has been negatively impacted by over promising and we need to just be realistic and hopeful as we get more information about the vaccine.’
Dr Moy said scientists still didn’t know if the Covid vaccines stop the transmission of the virus and how long they last.
‘The best thing we can do [in the meantime] is just vaccinate as many people as we can,’ he said.
Qantas CEO Alan Joycesaid the aviation company is planning for open borders at the end of October, despite the slow vaccine roll-out
Some commentators believe if the vaccine rollout was speedier, international borders would be removed sooner.
Sky News host Rita Panahi called Australia a ‘prison island’ and said the border closure came at the cost of jobs and government.
‘Yes, Australia isn’t riddled with Covid-19, but that is only because our country has effectively been cut off from the rest of the world for the past year,’ she said.
‘That has come with an enormous cost. We now have unprecedented levels of government debt and have seen some sectors including tourism, hospitality, and higher education utterly decimated.’
WHAT GREG HUNT SAID
Opening up, as has been set out by the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer, is based on a series of factors. 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.
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. But we are opening up internationally to New Zealand, within the coming days for two-way travel. We’re already opened to New Zealand.
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.
And as we’ve said, this year will be about progressively opening up. And that’s what the Prime Minister has tasked his Department to work on, with all of the states and territories.
So a series of safety milestones as we progress forward, which allow us to open up.