Airlines plan to travel in October, but Health Minister said vaccine rollout does not mean borders are open

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Massive push to open international borders by October amid fears that Australians could be trapped on a ‘prison island’ for YEARS despite the world moving forward after the pandemic

  • The airline CEOs are pushing for international travel starting in October
  • Health Secretary Greg Hunt said the borders may not open when the vaccine rollout ends
  • Virgin Australia CEO wants to travel abroad before Aussies are immunized

Australian airlines want international borders to open in October, regardless of whether the country’s derailed vaccine program is complete.

Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka called on the country to lift its borders once the country’s most vulnerable people have been immunized.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce also confirmed his desire to resume international holidays by October, as predicted in the airline’s semi-annual report.

But the government refuses to guarantee when all Australians will be vaccinated, and Health Minister Greg Hunt said even then the borders might remain closed.

Jayne Hrdlick, CEO of Virgin Australia (pictured), wants borders to be lifted once Australia's most vulnerable people are immunized

Jayne Hrdlick, CEO of Virgin Australia (pictured), wants borders to be lifted once Australia’s most vulnerable people are immunized

“Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We then look at other Pacific and region countries that have potentially low transmission environments,” he said.

‘We still have to look at a range of different factors: transmission, lifespan and the global impact [of opening borders]

Ms. Hrdlicka called on Thursday to allow travel between Australia and countries like Great Britain and the US within a few months.

“The New Zealand bubble is a great first step, but there are many communities around us that are way ahead of us on vaccine programs, such as the US and UK and Israel, Singapore,” she said.

Joyce said Qantas was preparing for international flights to begin on Oct. 31, the date the government initially expected the rollout to end.

“While there have clearly been some speed bumps with the rollout of vaccines, we still plan to resume international flights at the end of October,” he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) says even a fully vaccinated population does not guarantee open borders

Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) says even a fully vaccinated population does not guarantee open borders

Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) says even a fully vaccinated population does not guarantee open borders

But Chris Moy, vice president of the Australia Medical Association, told Daily Mail Australia that the government should not promise too much in opening borders because they don’t know everything about the vaccines.

‘The airlines will have an interest in opening up, you understand it’s their business [but it is reasonable not to overpromise at the moment,’ he said.

‘The vaccine rollout has been negatively impacted by over promising and we need to just be realistic and hopeful as we get more information about the vaccine.’

Dr Moy said scientists still didn’t know if the Covid vaccines stop the transmission of the virus and how long they last.

‘The best thing we can do [in the meantime] is just vaccinating as many people as possible, ”he said.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyces said the airline has plans for open borders in late October, despite slow vaccine rollout

Qantas CEO Alan Joyces said the airline has plans for open borders in late October, despite slow vaccine rollout

Qantas CEO Alan Joyces said the airline has plans for open borders in late October, despite slow vaccine rollout

Some commentators believe that if vaccine roll-out were faster, international borders would sooner be lifted.

Sky News presenter Rita Panahi called Australia a ‘prison island’ and said the closure of the border was at the expense of jobs and the government.

“Yes, Australia is not full of Covid-19, but that’s only because our country has actually been cut off from the rest of the world in the past year,” she said.

‘That entailed enormous costs. We now have unprecedented public debt and have seen some sectors, including tourism, hospitality and higher education, have been completely decimated. ‘

WHAT GREG HUNT SAID

The opening, as outlined by the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officer, is based on a series of factors. Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up.

And this was a discussion that, in fact, I only had for the past 24 hours with Professor Murphy, that if the whole country was vaccinated, you couldn’t just open the borders.

We have yet to look at a range of different factors: transmission, lifespan and global impact.

And those are factors the world is learning about. But we are opening internationally to New Zealand for two trips in the next days. We have already opened for New Zealand.

We then look at other Pacific and region countries that have potentially low transmission environments, which is why Australia can do that.

And as we said, this year will be about a gradual opening. And that’s what the prime minister has dedicated his department to, with all states and territories.

So a series of safety milestones as we move forward, allowing us to open up.

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