UK wants open borders to Australia, but we may not accept the invite

A traffic light system will help restart UK travel, however Australia might not give Britain the green light.

By David Flynn, June 27 2020
UK wants open borders to Australia, but we may not accept the invite

The UK hopes to reopen travel to Australia as part of a new "traffic light" system permitting travel to and from dozens of low-risk countries without the need to go into quarantine for two weeks.

Under the scheme, to take affect from July 6, countries will be classified as green, amber or red, based on infection levels and trajectories, reliability of official data and confidence in each country's test and trace systems.

The initial list of safe countries, drawn up by the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre working with Public Health England, will be released until next week.

Most of Europe will be declared green or amber, which both qualify for quarantine-free travel.

The automatic 14-day quarantine requirement for arrivals, which the UK government put in place on June 8, will remain for 'red-rated' countries, which are expected to include the United States, India and much of South America.

As part of the push to unlock the borders as the UK and Europe move into the northern summer holiday season, the UK Foreign Office will also lift its advice against 'all but essential travel' to low or medium-risk destinations, making it possible to obtain travel insurance, although most insurers are refusing to offer cover for Covid-19. 

Travellers will be required by law to wear masks on planes, ferries and Eurostar trains, with travel terminals adopting minimal-touchpoint protocols and physical distancing.

A Government spokesman said "our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business."

"But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to reintroduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas."

Two-way agreements needed

The creation of these 'air bridges' will be based on discussions with each country, with the aim of creating a bilateral agreement – a two-way corridor – which would let visitors from those countries enter the UK without going into isolation.

While it's said that the UK government hopes to reach such an agreement with Australia in the coming weeks, Downing Street shouldn't expect to get a green light from Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that while "a number of countries expressed an interest given our health success in Australia, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will be invitations we take up."

However, he singled out the proposed trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand as one where" we hope we can come to an arrangement" – although this may not be realised until after the New Zealand general election on 19 September 2020.

Morrison added that while there was still "uncertainty" about when Australia's border would reopen, he agreed that Qantas CEO Alan Joyce's suggestion of mid-2021 for most international travel was not unreasonable.

"You look around the world and you see the intensity of the virus escalating, not decelerating, then I think it is not unreasonable for Alan Joyce to form the view he has."

SingaporeThailandMalaysia, Hawaii and Fiji have also suggested opening their borders to a handful of countries, including Australia, with Singapore the most likely starter under its 'green lane' proposal.

Read more: Qantas will suspend almost all overseas flights until middle of 2021

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

Indeed it is bit optimistic of Boris to assume Australia will let Brits in quarantine free with the infection rates he has. To allow Australians out means they have to be let in again with two weeks hotel quarantine. There may be hotel capacity issues regardless of who pays, hence Sco-Mo's caution.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 195

Whilst a 'travel bubble' is still in the works between New Zealand and Australia, that is based on Australia having no active community transmissions, why would Australia allow two way travel between Australia and the UK? New Zealand has no active community transmission cases and the only active cases are from those New Zealand citizens and permanent residents in 14 day quarantine.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1243

"Air bridges" and "travel bubbles" are two of the most annoying phrases to have come out of this pandemic, along with "pivot".

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1000

"New Normal" is just as annoying.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

Yes Boris, that's a great idea. Can you give us 6 months to think it over?

05 Apr 2017

Total posts 11

From yesterday's Weekend Australian - deaths per million population - UK: 638 Australia: 4

Both are island nations with advanced health systems.

30 Jun 2020

Total posts 1

As a brit I can only apologise for the pig ignorant government we have i understand there is no way any Australian pm would agree to this

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

On Monday Frankfurt airport opened walk-in coronavirus testing centre. Passengers can pay to take a test. Results are available within hours. Vienna International Airport started offering similar testing more than a month ago. UK is going to start testing program in a few weeks. Iceland (Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport) offers tests upon arrival.

Why AU gov is not looking at this kind of solution?? How long are they going to keep the borders shut??

Why is aviation industry doing nothing??

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

Adi the level of false negatives is so high (over half for asymtomatic) that two tests are often required day 3 and day 11. When the incidence rate is so low why take the risk. The number of positives coming out of quarantine while only a few percent is such that if they weren't picked up we would have many more Victoria like clusters. Germany has such a high incidence rate a few more positives loose won't make a huge difference

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

The objective for closing the borders was to flatten the curve so that the hospitals would not be over run. And that has been already achieved. We must accept that covid-19 will be around from now on and just deal with it.
Current cases admitted to hospital 15
Current cases in ICU/ICU capacity 1/2378

Total elimination cannot be achieved without enormous ongoing social and economic costs for many years to come. The mortality rate does not justify economic and social destruction.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

Adi as we can see in Victoria (and Texas) it can quickly get out of hand and overrun systems. 'Just dealing with it' may be to have restrictions on inward travel, until a more accurate test is available for asymptomatic cases. Without any restrictions the mortality rate and hospitalizations can rise quite sharply and fill the hospitals, and if they are full of COVID people other can't get in and that adds to the mortality rate. That can then lead to 'economic and social destruction' which is why East Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and China are so strict with lockdowns etc. which may be the best way of 'just dealing with it' as you suggest.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Tell us the plan, if the borders are to remain closed, closed until when exactly?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

Not sure we know the when in terms of dates, but it is when there is no more community transmission which NZ has reached and around half of Australia. Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore may not be that far off. Also parts of China but internal travel makes it risky.

That is an unrealistic goal. Australia is currently just putting off the inevitable. The flare up in Victoria is perfectly manageable and had not overrun the health service. This disease needs to be managed and we now know so much more about it than we did 3 months ago that it can be managed without entirely destroying the economy and people's mental wellbeing in the process.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

Aussie, Melbourne had 300,000 people and 30 suburbs in lockdown (from 203 clusters if it was 10 times that, which you a seem to be suggesting by opening borders then the health systems would collapse. See Texas and Leicester in the UK.

I don't follow your logic patrickk. Texas is not comparable because the US has spiralled out of control due to total ineptitude on the part of Trump. Leicester is in a localised lock down due to a spike in cases much in the same way as those Melbourne suburbs. In neither case have the health services been overrun, nor has there been an increase in deaths. My point is that we now have enough knowledge and experience of the virus to managed it whilst also focusing on recovering some degree of normality, including the ability to move around.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1129

The ability to 'move around' is contingent on knowing who is infected hence 14 day quarantine. If we don't know who in infected then we get clusters and as we can see from quarantine cases ( a few tens each day) if it was those who were not identified and were out and about we would have more clusters and more local lockdowns which quickly become state or national level lockdowns, and threaten health systems. Note in Melbourne they are coping because other states and federal agencies including the military are pitching in, all for 300,000 people. If it was 3m it would be something again. I'm all for people moving around as log as they quarantine if then need to. By the way I meant 2-3 cluster NOT 203. If it was 203 clusters then we would be in dire shape. As I keep saying deaths has little to do with it is is hospitalisations. If hospital are full of COVID patients and it is about 20% of infections (and they are in for a couple of weeks) then their is no room for anyone else. Hence higher overall death rates as the UK is find.

30 Jun 2020

Total posts 6

Yes I agree, none of the talk is about how to resume travel including testing, tracing etc. The focus is only on the negative.

Fellow retirees I talk to in Australia are not spending on travelling domestically, rather saving this years travel budget and waiting for 'the overseas gates to open'.

Those of us with European assets are seeing their value diminish while we are prohibited from travelling, which incidentally is unconstitutional!


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