Aussies that think they're heading overseas soon will need to hit pause on those ideas for three more months at least, with the federal government announcing this week they'll be keeping international bans in place until at least March 17.
The decision was made after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advised that COVID-19 was still an ongoing threat that posed significant public health risk despite the new Pfizer vaccine.
"The disease is spreading as quickly as ever," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a presser via news.com.au. "The international world remains a challenging and dangerous environment and Australia won't be fully safe until the international community is safe."
The ban, put in place on March 18 and originally set to run until December 17, prohibits Aussies from leaving the country unless their trip is deemed to be exempt from the restrictions (eg. you need to go see loved ones or something). In the presser, Greg Hunt shared that only 95,325 exemptions had been granted.
The ban on domestic and international cruises and the restrictions on the operation of shops at international airports will also be extended.
Yesterday (Tuesday), Australia recorded another day of zero community transmission cases of coronavirus, though there were 15 recorded cases at hotel quarantines.
"What that says is the international world remains a challenging and dangerous environment," Greg Hunt said. "The risks abroad are enormous, and if we don't maintain these important protections, then we won't be protecting Australians."
While the fact we now have to wait that much longer to visit friends and family abroad or to see new places is frustrating, we have to remember this is all in our best interest and that the sooner the virus is under control, the more freely we'll be allowed to move. In the meantime there are tons of great Aussie destinations on our bucket list.
'International travel' will probably only mean travelling to select places, anyway. Back in October, ScoMo had said Aussies likely wouldn't be allowed to travel to the US and the UK until 2022(!!), unless a vaccine becomes available. Dear god.
If your head is a little scrambled, make sure you pop over to WHO.int to get all of your official COVID-19 updates.
Written by Sangeeta Kocharekar, an American-born, Sydney-based writer at MTV. Photos from her pre-COVID-19 days as a travel writer are at @sangeetatatiana.