Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka has joined the increasingly diverse number of people calling for a timeline on Australia opening its international borders.
Hrdlicka could have chosen her words better though, urging the Federal Government to reopen borders sooner rather than later even though “some people may die”.
“Covid will be part of the community, we will become sick with Covid and it won’t put us in hospital, and it won’t put people into dire straits because we’ll have a vaccine,” Hrdlicka told a Queensland University of Technology business lunch yesterday.
“It will make us sick but won’t put us into hospital … some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu.
“We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and challenges over the years and [Australia] has to learn how to live with this.
“We’re all going to be sicker than we ever have been in the past because we’re not exposed to the viruses and challenges that the rest of the world is dealing with so we need to get the borders open for our health and the economy.
“It needs to change so that Covid will become part of the community.”
Virgin Airlines has backed her stance saying in a statement Australia “must learn to live with Covid-19 in the community”.
“We must learn to live with Covid-19 in the community in a way that protects the health and safety of our people but also opens Australia up to the rest of the world,” the company stated.
Hrdlicka is far from being alone, with Qantas boss Alan Joyce and Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton arguing that Australia cannot simply shut itself off from the rest of the world forever.
But wording such as this probably has the opposite effect, with a government openly admitting its closed border stance is being driven by polling rather than medical advice.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is for now happy to play both sides of the argument, lambasting state and territory leaders who are happy to close their borders at a moment’s notice while employing the same reasoning to keep Australia closed to the world.
With an early election now unlikely it looks like Australia will have to wait quite some time before any politician is happy to talk about living with Covid.