Beijing might be on high alert, given the number of new COVID infections, but life in Australia is increasingly moving back to something that is closer to normal. Well, in some states and territories.
South Australia has opened its borders to Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, meaning interstate travellers can arrive without undergoing a 14-day quarantine. It is considering adding Queensland to the list, but Victoria and New South Wales are still on the banned list and it looks likely they will to have to wait until 20 July.
Queensland is working towards reopening its borders by July, however premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned that won’t happen if there are community transmission cases interstate.
The state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, has pointed to a 10 July opening for domestic travel, however that date is based on the number of coronavirus cases remaining low, with no community transmission in other states.
In Tasmania, premier Peter Gutwein says the existing border closures will be reviewed again in early July.
Victoria, NSW and the ACT never closed their borders.
Western Australia is off limits to all, with premier Mark McGowan yet to provide a date to reopen. Residents can travel around the state, but there are strict bans in place for certain remote indigenous communities and regions – including parts of the Kimberley.
Travellers to the Northern Territory need to complete 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine. Earlier this week, Northern Territory chief minister Michael Gunner said the Top End might reopen its borders in mid-July.
Both Victoria and New South Wales leaders were fuming about the SA snub, with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews asking why anyone would want to go to South Australia in the first place.
“I don’t want to be offensive to South Australians, but why would you want to go there?” said Mr Andrews, arguing that there was more to see in Victoria anyway.
“Stay at home. Don’t get too stressed they won’t let you into Adelaide; why would you want to stay there?”
South Australian Labor leader Peter Malinauskas was quick to offer the following reasons: “Better food, better wine, better beer, better coffee, better beaches, better sporting stadium, better festivals, better traffic, better lifestyle, better people.”
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “None of this makes sense to me.”
NSW residents can at least travel to Queensland, another state that doesn’t want Victorians.
The federal government has intervened in the border feuds, with attorney-general Christian Porter saying the Commonwealth will argue they are unconstitutional.
But where do we want to go?
According to University of Queensland research, more than 50 per cent of Australians want to travel domestically when restrictions lift. And it’s coastal, country and regional areas they want to get to – to support local tourism.
“One of the lasting impacts of the crisis is it kind of gave us an opportunity, or maybe forced us, to reflect on our lives,” said Daniel Gschwind, chief executive officer of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.
“And, as a result, I think we will, and we are, seeing people focusing on the real thing … connecting with nature [and] going back to basics in some sense.”
Tourism and Transport Forum research found that while almost two in five people were planning to travel within their own state in the next two months, that figure is expected to rise to almost two-thirds within the next six months.
Are you itching to hit the road? Where do you want to go?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.