Although Australia is ready to resume international travel from November, travel to and from certain countries will be suspended in the event of a significant Covid-19 outbreak or the appearance of a new coronavirus variant.
The news adds another wrinkle to the era of post-pandemic travel and could give many Australians reason to hit pause on their short-term travel plans.
Speaking with ABC Radio Brisbane this morning, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt admitted that a sudden surge in Covid cases or the rise of another variant overseas could result in a pause of travel then between that country and Australia.
"There is the capacity to do that," Hunt said.
"The example was India, when we were seeing 14% positive rates on the flights that were going into Howard Springs" – which resulted in the Government halting repatriation flights from India for two weeks in May 2021.
"It was controversial at the time. But after that, we were able to sure up the testing procedures that were occurring in another country with additional Australian measures, put in place those procedures, and it dropped from a positive rate of 14% to under 1%."
"So that was protecting the Howard Springs and the Northern Territory, and by definition, the rest of Australia," Hunt continued.
"Were there to be a virulent outbreak, where its impact on vaccinations was not known initially, that's the sort of thing that you would look for."
"There may be that there are individual cases of a mass outbreak, where we’re very concerned about a country, but the presumption is that you leave, you travel to your point of destination, and your protection is you come back double vaccinated and then into home quarantine for seven days with appropriate testing."
Hunt also reiterated that November's restart of inbound international travel and the removal of caps on arriving passengers would be restricted to "Australians or permanent residents overseas to return if they haven't come back yet."
"It's not initially about opening up travel for other people from overseas. It starts with Australians who are fully vaccinated doing that, and so we're not placing restrictions."