Australia has had some of the most stringent closures since the pandemic began. In 2020, it was among the most successful countries in lowering virus cases and keeping its economy open by keeping case numbers to fewer than 30 a day since September 2020. But as many countries around the world are gearing up for summer tourism by introducing policies that may allow vaccinated travelers or those with negative COVID-19 tests to enter, the Australian government remains skeptical. It’s now expected that its borders will remain closed until 2022.
“We recognize that if Australians want to be kept safe and secure … and given 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, these are all considerations that mean we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian. “…There’s a fragility that underpins all of that.”
Australia had tested a quarantine-free travel bubble with its neighbor New Zealand, but it didn’t last long. After two cases were discovered in Sydney, quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia was paused, according to Reuters. Nearby Hong Kong and Singapore were also testing a travel bubble with each other, but that’s now also being reviewed due to rising cases, according to Bloomberg. That said, both Hong Kong and Singapore have expressed interest in pursuing a similar travel agreement with Australia.