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Australia will ‘definitely’ set up more travel bubbles with other Covid-safe countries

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Australia will ‘definitely’ set up more travel bubbles with other countries deemed low risk for coronavirus – but there is one major hurdle in the way of opening the nation’s borders

  • Australia could be about to open travel bubbles with other low-risk countries
  • Health officials are hoping for one-way travel bubble with NZ to be reciprocated 
  • Chief medical officer said bubbles with Pacific Island nations could be next 
  • Emphasised any opening of national borders was riding on Covid vaccine rollout 

Australia could be on the verge of opening travel bubbles with other countries with low rates of Covid-19 transmission, according to the nation’s top doctor. 

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Tuesday health officials hoped to soon set up a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand.

Kiwis have been allowed to enter Australia quarantine-free since October, but the deal has yet to be reciprocated by the NZ Government.

Professor Kelly said discussions were also being held to establish tourism bubbles with low-risk Pacific Island countries.

But he insisted the successful rollout of the coronavirus vaccine – which is scheduled to begin next month – was critical to opening Australia’s border. 

He said the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee was doing regular risk assessments to find other ‘green’ countries to partner with.

‘We have had tens of thousands of people who have come across the ditch in the last few months and not a single case,’ he said. 

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said health officials had their hopes set on establishing a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said health officials had their hopes set on establishing a two-way travel bubble with New Zealand

He said the Australian Government was ‘definitely open to other bubbles’.

‘We haven’t found another green country at this stage – there are some that are very low risk and that is playing into discussions about how people from some of those countries should be quarantined to make sure it is safe,’ he said.

However, Australians were warned normal international travel is unlikely to resume until next year, even as coronavirus vaccines were rolled out. 

Tourism operators are appealing for more federal government support, saying they cannot survive on business from domestic tourists alone.

Pictured: Sydney's Bondi Beach. The successful rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is key to opening the borders to low-risk countries, Professor Kelly said

Pictured: Sydney’s Bondi Beach. The successful rollout of the coronavirus vaccine is key to opening the borders to low-risk countries, Professor Kelly said

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond said the sector cannot survive on domestic travel alone, particularly if state borders keep closing.

‘There is no way that domestic tourism can fill the gap that will be left by inbound international travel,’ she told the ABC.

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‘Essentially your average Chinese visitor to Australia probably spends $8500 while they’re here. Your average Aussie who heads off for a holiday is probably spending about $1,500.

‘Make no mistake, while international borders remain closed, we have no hope of recovery.’

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