Australians may soon be able to travel to other states but don’t expect to leave the country anytime soon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
The Federal Government has unveiled its three-step plan for easing coronavirus restrictions and restarting the country.
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Local and regional travel will be allowed in stage one.
Some interstate travel could begin in stage two, before expanding in stage three, Mr Morrison said in this afternoon’s press conference.
“In step three, we’re hopeful that there will be more travel around the country,” Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said.
“And we may start to get some domestic tourism again.”
The National Cabinet’s recommendations will be introduced by states at their own pace, Mr Morrison said.
This means resumption of interstate travel will depend on states and territories agreeing to ease strict border restrictions and welcome back visitors from other states.
While the Federal Government has previously urged against non-essential domestic travel, the Prime Minister said state border restrictions had “never been part of the national baselines”.
“That has never been our recommendation,” he said.
“They have been decisions that have been taken unilaterally by those states.
“I’m not making judgments about them one way or the other. And they’ll decide those.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this afternoon she would review border restrictions if the risk of transmission from other states remained low.
She also said tourism in the state may resume by the June school holidays.
“(You) will be able to travel into your region up to 250km to go to local destinations for a drive holiday and then in July, we are absolutely hoping – fingers crossed that our numbers remain low and everything is going well – we will be able to open up travel for right across Queensland,” she said.
“We will be reviewing our borders, of course, and if the rates of transmission track lower in NSW and Victoria, we will look at enabling interstate travelling but a proviso is based on health advice.
“I will not put Queenslanders or Queensland families at risk and, if there is a risk, the border will remain closed.”
WHAT ABOUT OVERSEAS TRIPS?
International travel will likely begin with a cross-Tasman and Pacific Island travel, which Mr Morrison said would be considered in stage three of the Government’s plan.
But broader international travel, which would allow Australians to travel for leisure to Asia, Europe, the United States and elsewhere, is unlikely to resume anytime soon.
“There’s nothing on our radar which would see us opening up international travel in the foreseeable future,” Prof Murphy said.
“There are already some very, very minor exceptions, where the Border Force can provide an exemption for outbound travel, but that’s in areas like facilitating development aid in third countries and things like that. It’s a very limited set of circumstances.”
Prof Murphy reiterated the bulk of Australia’s coronavirus cases were linked to overseas travel.
“We’re not looking at the border measures as we have said on many occasions (because) two-thirds of the cases in Australia have been from returning travellers,” he said.
“We’re not going to relax any of our border measures soon and we’re going to continue to quarantine all returning travellers because this virus is certainly in a much worse position in many other countries from which our citizens are returning.”