International borders closed indefinitely except for migrants

The Federal Government has been sending mixed signals over any proposed opening of Australia’s international border, with any hopes of a return to overseas travel off the cards until Covid has been brought under control globally.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that the borders will stay shut indefinitely saying Australians don’t have any appetite to open them under the current conditions globally.

But Morrison took to Facebook to clarify the government’s stance on international borders after The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying Australia would stay closed off until Covid was eliminated.

“Australia’s COVID suppression strategy has not changed to an ‘elimination’ strategy nor is ‘zero cases’ our goal as reported today,” he posted.

“There will always be cases as we return Australians home from overseas. International borders will only open when it is safe to do so. We still have a long way to go, and there are still many uncertainties ahead.

“Australians are living like in few countries around the world today. We will continue to do everything we can to work together prevent a third wave and roll out our vaccination programme. And, as always, we will continue to listen to the medical advice and make decisions in the best health and economic interests of all Australians.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg backed up the ban on overseas travel saying “we’ve got to follow the medical advice”.

“That medical advice has helped keep Australians safe, that medical advice has helped keep the virus at bay here in Australia, and with a strong health position, we’ve had a strong economic recovery, and it’s vitally important we continue to follow the medical advice, with respect to borders,” he said.

However, he also stated that the government is aiming to bring migration of overseas workers back to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has called funding certainty for tourism business that are dependent on overseas visitors.

“The Government is indicating our international borders will be closed to visitors until at least the end of the year and while many tourism businesses are surviving with domestic visitation, there is a group of uniquely exposed businesses who receive little or no benefit from the current domestic travel stimulus programs,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“While we welcome these stimulus initiatives which are helping drive domestic travel, there are many tourism products which domestic travellers are simply not booking, like day tours and attractions. Plus we have the inbound tour operator cohort who are unable to pivot their business model to benefit from domestic travel support programs.

“While these businesses have welcomed the support packages offered by the Government so far, they are crying out to know if this support will continue until international borders reopen.

“Without this certainty, they have no confidence to invest in their future or begin planning for our industry’s restart, let alone continuing to hold on to the rubble of their businesses.

“ATEC is anxiously awaiting the details of the federal budget which will be a clear indicator of the Government’s understanding of tourism’s plight.”