As it begins to emerge from its self-imposed hibernation due to COVID-19, Australia is starting to consider what tourism, including international travel, will look like.
The island nation of 25 million has done beautifully with its control of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus – less than 7,300 cases and just slightly more than 100 deaths. Australia is ready to consider tourism again, but on a slow and controlled measure. So their Tourism Restart Task Force is setting up what they feel is an appropriate timetable.
The task force meets once a week, sometimes with government officials attending the meeting. Here’s what they’re working on:
Australia’s shutdown initially included some states shutting their borders and some keeping theirs open. As of this writing, some states currently allow interstate travel, some don’t. This page from the Australian government gives the most up-to-date information.
Unlike, say, Tanzania, which opened its doors to everyone, sight unseen, Australia plans to go “slow and slow” with its international travel.
Australia had already agreed with New Zealand, its neighboring country that also has done wonderfully with controlling its COVID-19 problems, to form a “travel bubble” that will allow for inter-country travel with each other in the not-too-distant future.
On July 1, they’ll do a “test flight,” that will government officials, business representatives and members of the media between, Canberra and Wellington. Both cities have had relatively few cases of coronavirus, so it’s a good place to start. There are no direct flights between the two, but the two governments are suggesting that airlines may need to redraw their route maps based on where the safest cities are.
If that goes well, travel between those two countries, from safe city to safe city, could commence on a more regular basis.
From September 10 onward, Australia will consider more of these so-called “travel bubbles” that will allow opening its borders to other countries on a case-by-case basis.
Australia’s timetable currently has all international travelers able to visit by December 15, however even that would be dependent on how each nation was doing in terms of virus cases. Countries would only be included after considered safe by Australian health authorities.
“It will be market by market – we just don’t know where countries will be at with COVID when we get to that stage,” said John Hart, the Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
The above timeline appears to be, at best, penciled in, and will depend on how any area, be it an Australian state or foreign country, is doing with its cases of coronavirus. As per Phillipa Harrison, Tourism Australia Managing Director, “Whilst the Australian Prime Minister has now set out a three-step roadmap for easing restrictions and re-opening a COVID-safe Australia, this will be an evolving process and we don’t have details at this stage about when key decisions relating to international travel will be made.”
For us in the United States (nearly 2 million cases of the virus, over 100,000 deceased), unless we start to get our act together, I think it’s safe to say that our ability to go “down under” for koala photos ops and to replenish our stash of Tim Tams still won’t happen for a while.
Feature Photo: Hai Linh Truong/flickr
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary