Australian PM says it's 'unlikely' borders will open by Christmas


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The million dollar question... when will Australians be able to fly abroad again.

The prospect of travelling overseas has all but seemed like a distant memory.

While countries like Greece have opened to international tourism, Australians (apart from those in Melbourne) remain confined to travelling within their own state or territory.

During a press conference on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the country's border would remain closed indefinitely after more than four months of barring citizens and permanent residents from leaving the country. “International travel constraints on inbound arrivals to Australia should be continued in their current form,” he said.

“We look forward to at some point that that might be able to be altered but at this point we are not going to put any further strain on the quarantine arrangements around the country and that will remain in place now for some months," the PM continued.

Today during the press conference, Morrison predicted that Australia’s international borders won’t open before 2021. This comes as Victoria battles to contain its coronavirus outbreak.“I would welcome if by Christmas it were possible, but I think it’s unlikely that we [will be] able to move back to a restriction-free society [by then],” he said. “I doubt that is going to happen, and I doubt the medical situation will enable it."

Last month, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg dropped a big clue on when he expects international air travel to kickstart again, pointing to a reopening on January 1, 2021. “From 1 January to 30 June 2021, it is assumed that the travel ban is lifted, but that a two-week quarantine period is required of arrivals to Australia,” the statement says.

“This leads to the resumption of arrivals by temporary and permanent migrants, but at lower levels overall than normal,’’ the Treasury document states.

It is recalled two weeks ago, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis participated in a video conference with the leaders of the countries that successfully handled the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual meeting included Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The Greek PM briefed the other leaders on Greece’s epidemiological course and the relatively low levels of the virus’ spread, as well as the cautious reopening of the economy, including tourism.

According to government sources, Mitsotakis outlined the measures that Greece has taken to protect public health for both locals and visitors, such as the use of the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for arriving travellers and the use of a special algorithm for targeted testing of arrivals.

All the leaders agreed that the resumption and gradual normalisation of economic activity must be done very carefully and exchanged views on possible developments concerning the pandemic in the autumn.

Previously, the Greek Prime Minister proposed the creation of a “safe corridor” that will allow travel between countries which have successfully contained their coronavirus outbreaks.

As of July 1, Greece opened to tourism following the relaxation of coronavirus-related restrictions.

All passengers arriving in Greece must fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least a day before arrival, providing information that will include their departure airport, the address where they will be staying and the expected duration of their stay in Greece, among others. The information on the form is a key element of the country’s planning for protection against the pandemic and preventing the spread of the virus.