Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says he hopes Australia will have a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand by the end of next year.
However Aussies could be banned on travelling to countries in Europe and America for years unless an effective coronavirus vaccine is found.
From next Friday, NSW and the Northern Territory will begin allowing New Zealanders to travel there without having to quarantine, with Mr Birmingham telling The Sun-Herald discussions on making it reciprocal were still ongoing.
“Work continues on how we can facilitate two-way COVID-safe travel between Australia and New Zealand, and I hope that we can see a reciprocal arrangement of quarantine-free travel with New Zealand by the year’s end,” he said.
Next travel will be considered to other “low risk” countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Pacific Island countries, government sources told Nine Newspapers.
The Australian government’s international travel ban has been in place since March.
People who wish to leave the country must obtain approval from Australian Border Force – but roughly three quarters of applications are refused.
Between March and July, there were more than 90,000 applications, but only 22,640 citizens and permanent residents were granted permission to leave the country, Nine Newspapers reported.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this week hinted Australia’s international borders would likely remain closed until late 2021.
“International travel, including by tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually return over time, and a vaccine to be available around the end of 2021 is one of the assumptions in the budget,” Mr Frydenberg said in a post-Budget speech to the National Press Club in Canberra.
“We have taken every step possible to give Australia the best possible chance of getting a vaccine.”
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