Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously hinted that Australia’s international borders aren’t expected to reopen until 80% of adults are fully vaccinated. So, what does the future hold for aspiring international students in Australia? Here’s what we know so far:
The reopening of Australia’s international borders
Australia is currently dealing with the highly transmissible Delta variant that has resulted in weeks-long lockdowns. Morrison said in August that the country must start to learn to live with COVID-19 when Australian vaccination rates reach their targets, reported Reuters. No specific timelines were given.
As part of Australia’s four-stage plan out of the pandemic, a target for 80% of adults needs to be fully vaccinated before the gradual reopening of Australia’s international borders. The country, however, is not expected to reach the 80% fully vaccinated rate until December (the same time Qantas is reportedly restarting international flights).
When vaccination coverage reaches 80%, only “highly targeted lockdowns” would be necessary and inoculated Australians would be free to travel interstate. Limited travel through travel bubbles with low-risk destinations could be on the cards, but this would also depend on the country’s vaccination rates.
Australia’s international borders: Tussle between states and federal governments to reopen
Will Australia’s international borders reopen as one? Some states have hinted that they would like to reopen international borders sooner than others. Last week, news.com.au reported that New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian reportedly told the media that she will ease restrictions and attempt to resume international travel when vaccination targets are met, regardless of what the other states do. “I don’t want eight million people in NSW to suffer because some people don’t go forward with what they signed up to,” she said on Sunrise.
Sky News reported today that Berejiklian said 750,000 people came forward for a COVID-19 jab over the last week. “We are inching ever so much closer to that 70% double-dose figure which is so encouraging,” she was quoted saying. Berejiklian said a vaccination coverage of 70% double-dose will be NSW’s ticket out of lockdown amid an unrelenting outbreak of the Delta strain. In a separate report, ABC News said NSW 70% milestone is expected to be reached at the end of October.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria will begin to ease restrictions once 70% of eligible Victorians have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. In the meantime, the lockdown will continue and the border with NSW remains closed. “We’ve got to buy time to allow vaccinations to be undertaken all the while doing this …. very painful difficult work, to keep a lid as much as we can on cases,” he was quoted saying by ABC News.
Some state leaders are reluctant to follow the national plan, including Western Australia’s Mark McGowan, who has expressed reluctance about opening the state even when the PM’s targets are met. When Morrison was asked whether or not he could foresee a situation where a state such as NSW was allowed to start international travel again if other states were still reluctant to open their international borders, he reportedly answered yes — the national plan allows for it.