International travel might be on the way back for many in Australia, but millions will still be banned from travel come November. Unless you live in New South Wales or Victoria, it is unlikely that you will see international travel until December. However, if you live in Australia on a temporary visa or are a resident without voting rights, travel may not be an option until 2022.
It may seem like a small, irrelevant detail, but those who are not permanent residents or Australian citizens have been excluded from the lifting of the international travel ban in November. In a press conference, just two days after announcing international travel will resume in November, Scott Morrison, Australian prime minister, revealed that the privilege would only be allocated to Australians with voting rights.
Part of the Australian government’s roadmap out of lockdown involves getting Australian residents home from overseas while allowing just Australians to leave freely. Non-residents and temporary visa holders (such as students, working-holiday visa holders and temporary skilled workers) will have to wait until 2022, with no date set in stone yet.
This is a huge blow to temporary visa holders who have become the unsung beating heart of Australia during the pandemic. Many temporary residents have worked in essential jobs, filling agricultural and healthcare shortages that Australians alone couldn’t do.
The first cab off the rank is Australians. Australian citizens and residents who were vaccinated, they will be able to travel overseas and return. And if you are double vaccinated overseas and you are an Australian resident or citizen, you will be able to travel under those arrangements. – Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister, speaking to News.com
Scott Morrison will prioritise Australians stranded abroad, starting with home quarantine in New South Wales. It is unclear when other states will follow, but trials are being set up in Victoria.
We need to get those home quarantine facilities or procedures in place. NSW will have those in place next month. And for the other states and territories, I have spoken to Dan Andrews about this, we are getting trials in place there as well. Once at home quarantine model is up and running at scale, this will enable that to happen.
Following the successful return of Australian residents, International students and skilled migrants who are double vaccinated will be next.
We’ll get to international visitors I believe next year. The priority is Australians, we are ready for takeoff.
Sadly for many migrants and temporary visa holders, the news is everything they feared. In the last few days, stories have emerged of temporary visa holders feeling as if they have been forgotten. Some are going as far as saying they do not receive the same basic human rights as Australian citizens. However, international travel will likely be possible in 2022. Many will have to watch their Aussie friends jet off on holidays without them.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chair Tom Manwaring is pleading with the Australian government to remove all caps surrounding travel. Mr Manwaring believes seat caps should be scrapped along with the minefield of in-person covid testing.
Many countries around the world have developed fast, streamlined testing systems where results are received within minutes using rapid antigen tests. Australia has only begun testing the use of rapid antigen tests, with practical implementation still a way off yet.
New South Wales Liberal Party have appointed Gladys Berejiklian’s successor, Dominic Perrottet. Within just a few days of his appointment, Mr Perrottet has already changed the NSW roadmap out of lockdown, introducing new changes that will see the state get back to “normality” quicker. Despite this, it is feared that many of the new premiers changes will harm NSW’s Covid recovery. As Ms Berejiklian stated upon her standing down, New South Wales is at a crucial moment in time, with hospitals full and covid cases gradually on the decline. However, as we have seen all around the world, the virus comes in waves and easing too soon could be catastrophic for the state and Australia.
Thursday morning, NSW recorded 587 new cases and eight deaths. Nationally, 2266 cases were registered, with victoria contributing the bulk of the cases. Numbers have been steadily decreasing in the past week, with no day above 1000 total cases in NSW.
Many of Mr Perrottet’s changes to the roadmap involve doubling the numbers of existing restrictions. This means, as of Monday, double vaccinated NSW residents will be allowed to have up to 10 guests in their house, excluding children under the age of 12. This will increase to 20 people when the 80 per cent double dose target is reached. Double vaccinated residents will be allowed to travel outside of their 5km bubble within greater Sydney, with regional NSW travel due to return at the 80 per cent mark. Gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors will be permitted, while up to 500 people will be allowed to attend ticked outdoor events such as cricket games and concerts. Masks will also no longer be mandatory outdoors, despite the risk of community transmission in public settings.
Meanwhile, schools will return earlier than expected, with all students to go back to face-to-face learning by October 25th. Students in Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students, will still return on October 18th.
While NSW residents are happy about the prospect of early freedom, the majority remain concerned about reopening the state too early and undoing all of Ms Berekijilian’s hard work through the most challenging months of lockdown. There is also a lot of uneasiness surrounding Mr Perrottet’s appointment as the new NSW premier. Perrottet isn’t new to politics in NSW, having joined the liberal party ten years ago. Since then, he has become a somewhat controversial figure, having made comments which branded him a “racist”. Further comments led to Perrottet being labelled as anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality and anti-diversity. Several petitions have cropped up online in protest of Dominic Perrottets appointment, with one petition pleading to reinstate Gladys Berekijilian reaching over 78’000 signatures.
However, international travel and domestic travel is unlikely to be moved forward as a result of the new NSW roadmap. There is still no clarification on when unvaccinated residents will be able to travel overseas if, of course, that ever becomes an option. Although, New South Wales will open up for everyone on December 1st, vaccinated or not.