Lockdown Down Under: Australia unlikely to reopen borders fully this year

Lockdown Down Under: Australia unlikely to reopen borders fully this year
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It could be years until Australia lifts all restrictions that are in place to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to Australia’s channel 7News, economists at Deloitte do not expect Australia’s border restrictions to be fully lifted in the near future. Delays in the national vaccination programme may result in the country only returning to pre-pandemic conditions in 2024.

International travel to Australia restricted until 2024?

Deloitte Access Economics’ quarterly business outlook report warns that international travel to Australia is likely to remain restricted until 2024.

This report was released even before Australia’s vaccination programme hit an obstacle last week, placing further delays on the vaccination of its population and ultimately delaying the achievement of herd immunity in the Land Down Under.

VACCINATION DELAY PUT SPANNER IN THE WORKS

Last week, Australian authorities recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine only be given to people over the age of 50 due to blood clotting risks. This development has put a spanner in the works for Australia’s vaccination programme by causing delays in the national rollout of COVID-19 inoculations.

The government has now secured a further 20 million vaccine doses from Pfizer. However, these will only be arriving in Australia later this year, translating into further delays in the reopening of borders and the welcoming of international visitors.

DELAYED LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS

Economist Chris Richardson anticipates that Australia’s quarantine requirements for incoming travellers will remain in place for quite some time.

Australia currently allows a limited number of Australian citizens and permanent residents to enter the country each week, subject to a mandatory state-managed quarantine on arrival. The supervised quarantine is paid for by the returning citizens or residents themselves. The mandatory 14-day managed quarantine comes at a cost of A$3,000 (R33,278) per adult.  

“That keeps international travel – both inbound and outbound – pretty weak in 2022, and it may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024,” Richardson said.

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