International travel off the table until Christmas.
When emergency measures were put in place in March as COVID-19 took hold of the country, we were told they would be in place for at least six months.
But today the Federal Government confirmed what we all already knew in our hearts – those measures aren’t going anywhere fast.
The emergency period will now be extended until at least December 17.
Chief among the measures will be the bans on international travel.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said there was still too high a risk to ease back such restrictions
“The Australian Health Principal Protection Committee has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk,” he said.
“The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.”
It comes as industry leaders in the travel and airline sector warn international travel will likely not start up again until at least mid-next year.
Many cite the need for a globally-accessible vaccine to be developed before things could return to “normal”.
Australia has signed a “letter of intent” with drug-company AstraZeneca to attain the magic vaccine being worked on by Oxford University scientists as we speak.
This would guarantee 25 million doses to cover all Australians.
The extension of the travel bans come as tens of thousands of Australians struggle to return home from overseas.
A parliamentary committee was told about 23,000 Australians had registered their interest to return home from overseas, an increase of 5,000 in just two weeks.
Flight caps currently in place mean just 4,000 international passengers can enter Australia per week.
WA has the second-highest number of people returning at 525 per week, behind Sydney which is still taking in the most at 350 a day.
The Opposition is starting to ramp up the pressure on the Federal Government to lift the caps, but Scott Morrison is focusing first on domestic travel, seeking nationally-consistent principals for States to abide by before they open or close borders.
However, Mark McGowan has made clear that WA’s State border will remain in place regardless of the pressure at the Federal level, with think tank The Grattan Institute today backing in the importance of such measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Further Perth and Australia COVID-19 news on SoPerth.com.au.