A report published by the Australian newspaper has revealed leaked details of the federal government's tourism restart task force plans to reopen the nation’s international borders, which could allow Australians to travel to select destinations within months and return without the need for expensive hotel quarantine.
Prime minister Scott Morrison is considering a “traffic light system”, which would allow Aussies to visit certain countries that have low levels of the virus, including Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and some Pacific islands like Fiji. However, it is not clear if these low-risk countries would be prepared to accept Australian tourists.
New Zealanders could be allowed into Australia by November, according to the leaked plans, however, NZ authorities have said that Australians are unlikely to be allowed to cross the ditch until January or February 2021. Japan has indicated that it is considering allowing Australians to enter the country within the next few months; however a 14-day quarantine period will be required upon entry under its current rules.
The issue of quarantine, and the challenges it poses to a recovering tourism sector, is also considered in the task force’s strategy. According to the Oz, Morrison is considering allowing travellers returning from low-risk countries to quarantine at home. Currently, anyone entering the country is required to pay for a 14-day quarantine period in a hotel, which can cost upwards of $4,000 per adult. Permitting home quarantine in certain low-risk situations would save travellers from this hefty fee.
The plans also address the issue of interstate travel, by calling for all Australian states and territories to reopen their borders by December 1. Earlier in September, Morrison announced that all but one state, Western Australia, had committed to reopening borders before Christmas. Currently, the country's official ban on international travel is in place until December 17, however, this might be extended.