Nearly a year and a half later and we still have to hibernate in forced lockdowns around Australia. As it currently stands, most of Australia is in lockdown. Brisbane just finished a week stint recently and with new cases of Covid up in Cairns, a lockdown is always on the cards. Since the announcement of Covid Australia has been extremely strict with its borders and incoming flights, stricter than usual. I’m all for safety and protecting the people, but with countries like the UK and Canada slowly opening up their borders, surely Australia would follow suit?
Not a fucking chance in 2021!
For citizens and permanent residents, you have to gain an exemption to leave the country. Your reason for leaving has to meet one of the following criteria:
your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
your travel is for your business/employer
you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer
you are travelling on compelling or compassionate grounds
your travel is in the national interest.
To put it simply, you can’t leave when you see fit. Even applying for an exemption does not guarantee you the right to leave Australia. Although citizens and permanent residents can return, there is a lot of risk at stake in returning. Cancelled flights, quarantine, changes in schedule, and costs are some of the reasons why nearly 38,000 residents are stuck overseas. India and the United Kingdom have the highest number of applications for residents wanting to return home.
If you are in Australia on a temporary visa, you do not need an exemption to leave, granted that you can return to your home country. As reassuring as that sounds, it comes at a price. Once you're out, you’re out. Those leaving on a temporary visa will not be allowed to reenter Australia under any circumstances.
With strict border restrictions, it is evident that people are getting cabin fever. Australians are once again prisoners in their own country. While the government justifies it all for safety, the Prime Minister, state leaders, celebrities, and the rich can come and go as they please as long as they “quarantine” in the comfort of their mansions.
For the common folk, the idea of travelling is way off the cards. People who have not seen their families in years will have to keep riding it out with no answer as to when they can visit loved ones. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there will be no international travel for the rest of 2021. If Australia keeps up its panicked lockdown mentality, international travel for 2022 is looking very slim.
What's the solution for all of this? For starters, Australia has this desperate bid to try to eradicate Corona completely from Australia, which is simply impossible. The fact is that Corona is here and rather than try to erase it, we have to come to terms with trying to live with it. There is a simple solution that other countries are implementing with those travelling abroad. Travellers are required to take a Corona test 24 hours prior to flying, all clear, then you're good to hop on a plane. Another test when you land and you’re set to go. If you come back negative, then enjoy your holiday. Come back positive, enjoy the holiday from your quarantine hotel window. It's as simple as that.
Until a non-rushed vaccine arrives, I am holding off getting vaccinated. However, should I ever want to return home, I know I need to get vaccinated. Australia is currently trying to get all of its residents vaccinated by the end of the year. If international travel is nowhere near in sight, then in reality, with such low Corona cases in Queensland, I am in no rush. Sounds slightly selfish and maybe not the best attitude towards getting rid of Corona, but I have my doubts about any Covid vaccine.
As for Australia and its international travel, well, the question is this, how long can you really keep a country locked up from the rest of the world? It's an extreme measure and, as per usual, Australia goes extreme when trying to protect its borders. With the idea of international travel in 2022 looking dire by the time Australia even considers opening its borders, we would have been dealing with Corona for almost 3 years. 3 years of people not being allowed to visit home. 3 years of not seeing family and loved ones. 3 years of no international holidays. 3 years of being a prisoner on a tropical island.