When will Australia open its borders to the UK?

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand are on the UK’s green list for travel but both countries remain closed to Brits unless there are exceptional circumstances.

There are hopes though a “travel bubble” could be established in the near future.

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When will Australia open its borders to the UK?

Currently all arrivals into Australia must quarantine at a hotel – designated by authorities – for 14 days, along similar lines to the system set up by the British government earlier this year.

There are no plans yet to create a “travel bubble,” early indications are looking positive.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “It is a reasonable expectation that, as time goes on, as the vaccination rolls out across the world and here in Australia, you should rightly expect that things will change and how we manage the virus.”

Alan Joyce, the head of Quantas, Australia’s national flag carrier said on June 1: “A few months ago, I thought maybe Singapore, Taiwan and Japan would be first cabs off the list but with the great progress that’s been made in the US and the UK, you may see those markets opening up before the rest because the vaccine rollout has been so successful in both countries.”

He added that the Covid-19 vaccine is “our passport to get inter­national travel going again” and said: “We’re still talking to the government about it, we’re still planning to be ready [to fly long-haul international] at the end of this calendar year.”

When will New Zealand open to the UK?

New Zealand currently has virtually identical restrictions regarding entry to the country as Australia.

The country is expected to keep its doors closed to tourists for a similar amount of time as Australia.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern though has said she will consider establishing travel bubbles as more people get a Covid vaccine jab.

Speaking in May, she said: “Where vaccine roll out in New Zealand is incomplete, the number of countries we can safely open up to is limited.

“That’s because they need to hold the same status as us, or pose the same low risk of bringing Covid into the country.

“Niue [a South Pacific island nation] is the natural next addition. Beyond that we are relatively open-minded, and I do anticipate there will be other countries we can explore opportunities with.”

What are the exemptions?

Anyone hoping to travel to Australia or New Zealand will need a “special exemption” visa, as normal visa applications are no longer accepted. 

Only Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia without an exemption until further notice.

The same applies to New Zealand.

Travellers will only be granted an exemption with a "compassionate or compelling reason to enter Australia” or as New Zealand puts it, for “critical purpose”.

British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines are all running flights to Australia from the UK, with layovers in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. 

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