With Australia seemingly now batting with a flattened curve and the Government openly pondering lifting restrictions on certain aspects of life such as elective surgery, the road map out of isolation lockdowns is starting to become a little bit clearer. But Government officials today revealed what will be the coronavirus restriction that will linger on the longest before being removed. Luckily enough, it ain’t the pub.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy today stated that international travel will be “absolutely” the last thing to return to normal, and that Australia’s borders are likely to remain effectively closed for quite some time.
Addressing the first hearing of a Senate inquiry into the COVID-19 crisis in Canberra, Professor Murphy stated that although some restrictions may be lifted in the coming weeks and months, international travel was more or less off the cards for the foreseeable future.
Professor Murphy was emphatic when asked if international travel would be the last coronavirus restriction lifted, asserting “The international situation at the moment is such that any relaxation of border measures would be very risky.”
“We have just recommended to the national cabinet…that we continue the very restrictive bans on Australians essentially leaving the country unless there are exceptional circumstances. They are extraordinary measures but the international spread of this virus is huge,” Murphy stated.
Echoing that sentiment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that when borders re-open eventually, it would likely be with New Zealand first before opening up to other countries.
“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand. And we have similar trajectories. Their restrictions have been far greater. Our case response has, you know, been the same, if not better than New Zealand. So if there’s any country where we can look to achieve that, then I would have thought New Zealand would be the obvious candidate and that’s the nature of discussions we’ve had,” the Prime Minister said.
As for when travel may be opened back up to Australians, that remains largely dependent on how the pandemic is handled by other countries. And while Murphy has previously hinted that international travel may be off the cards until at least early 2021, officially the Government appears set to keep the borders more or less closed for the next three to four months before the situation is reassessed.