Despite Australia being on the UK's 'green list', its borders remain closed to Britons in all but exceptional circumstances.
However, a 'travel bubble' between Australia and the UK could be on the horizon, according to the head of Qantas.
Chief Executive of the nation's flag carrier, Alan Joyce, 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.”
Australia's Prime Minister has stated: “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.”
At present, however, all arrivals into Australia must quarantine at a hotel (designated by authorities) for 14 days, similar to the hotel quarantine introduced in the UK earlier this year.
Here's everything you need to know about visiting Australia.
What does 'green' status mean?
Under the UK Government's traffic light system, countries such as Australia that have been designated 'green' are those subject to the mildest travel restrictions. It means that anyone travelling from Australia to the UK since May 17 is free to do so without having to self-isolate, although they must take a PCR test within 72 hours before departure, and another on the second day after arrival.
How has Australia relaxed its lockdown?
Throughout 2020, Australia's approach to national lockdown changed according to case rates. Now, many of its states operate their own individual rules: businesses and public transport are largely open and accessible, but have differing regulations on face coverings, social distancing, and quarantine. These are also subject to frequent change.
For instance, face masks in most public walks of life have been declared mandatory in New South Wales, but are only "strongly encouraged" in Queensland.
Most recently, at the end of May, the entirety of the state of Victoria was placed into lockdown after evidence of the Indian Covid variant spreading in the community.
Am I allowed to travel to Australia?
Australia’s borders remain closed, and those hoping to travel to Australia 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, and exemptions are only granted to those with a "compassionate or compelling reason to enter Australia".
If you do manage to secure an exemption visa, you will still need to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility (for example a hotel) arranged by the state government once you arrive in Australia.
Are flights to Australia operating?
Many airlines have suspended their routes but it is possible to fly to Australia. British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines are running flights to the country from the UK, with layovers in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.
Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, has said it does not expect international flights to resume in earnest until the last quarter of 2021. Some of its planes have been grounded for three years.
When will holidays to Australia be possible?
Unfortunately, not any time soon. The Chief Medical Officer has warned that international travel may not be permitted until 2022.
Previously, the Australian tourism board has said in a statement. “From Tourism Australia’s perspective, attracting international travellers will form a critical part of the tourism restart and recovery in Australia, but will likely be further down the track.
“We just don’t know when international restrictions will start to be lifted, nor how the process of restoring international travel will play out. But we will be ready to go back when the time is right.”
Despite the long timeline, agencies remain positive about the future of travel to the country. “We cannot anticipate when borders will open, however when they do we will be ready to welcome travellers back to join us on some great adventures,” said Bencheikh.
“All our trips will be operated under new Safe Travel protocols developed and endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council, and a new Flexible Bookings policy will be in place so travellers can book confidently and change, move or cancel travel plans with no fuss.”