Where did you hope to spend Christmas?

It’s looking increasingly likely that many Australians will have to rethink Christmas travel plans, whether they be international or national.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison predicts that Australia’s international borders won’t open before 2021 and Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the territory’s borders will remain shut for at least 18 months.

In Victoria over the past 24 hours, 19 people died of coronavirus and 331 new cases were recorded. The deaths comprised: one female in her 50s, one male in his 70s, six females in their 80s, four males in their 80s, four females in their 90s and three males in their 90s. Fourteen deaths were linked to aged care outbreaks.

The cases that are most concerning Victorian authorities are the 100 ‘mystery’ cases, where the source of infection remains unknown. The number of active cases in Victoria with no clear source now stands at 2903, with a total of 7880 active cases across the state.

NSW recorded 22 new cases, with eight linked to a cluster at Tangara School for Girls at Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west.

Mr Morrison was less than optimistic in his assessment of when travel restrictions could be lifted.

“I would welcome if by Christmas it were possible, but I think it’s unlikely that we [will be] able to move back to a restriction-free society [by then],” he said. “I doubt that is going to happen, and I doubt the medical situation will enable it.

“It’s important that we just look, and test and interrogate the medical evidence and make decisions based on that and nothing else.”

Federal pressure on state premiers to allow a freer flow of domestic travellers has evaporated.

While Treasury made forecasts about a 1 January 2021 easing of restrictions, that was more a guess than a guideline, he said.

Mr Gunner said that free movement into the Northern Territory would be banned for at least 18 months and that anyone travelling to the territory from Sydney and Victoria would be required to complete two weeks of quarantine at their own expense.

“We have got an indefinite ban on Victoria, and Sydney keeps bubbling away to a point that I can’t give you a date where that would ever lift,” he told ABC 24, saying that 18 months would be a “conservative” estimate.

“My advice to every Territorian, if you can, [is] stay here in the Territory. You’re safe here, don’t go. If you can, cancel your Christmas holiday plans, stay here in the Northern Territory.

“Territorians first. This is what I think I need to do to make sure some of the most vulnerable people in the world stay safe,” he said in reference remote Aboriginal populations.

Are you still hopeful of travelling interstate or overseas by Christmas? Are you prepared to spend time in quarantine?

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Written by Janelle Ward


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