Australia’s hopes that international travel will return to normal next year have been dealt a blow, with the Federal Government warning that the borders are unlikely to re-open until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that while the rollout of the vaccines is excelling, global outbreaks and mutant strains have left the world much more uncertain.

He said that that meant that Australia’s borders, which have been mostly closed since March 2020, would remain shut well into next year.

“We recognise that if Australians want to be kept safe and secure … and given uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of COVID, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness, these are all considerations that mean we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease,” Mr Birmingham told The Australian.

“I think people appreciate, as we come to the point of delivering this year’s budget, it’s delivered against a global landscape of even greater uncertainty than existed a few months ago when we commenced the framing of it.

“The ferocity of recent COVID outbreaks, the uncertainty in many countries around vaccine rollouts, all create an environment in which, although Australia’s enjoying very high levels of business and consumer confidence, there’s a fragility that underpins all of that.”

Australia has already opened a travel bubble with New Zealand and it’s likely another will open with Hong Kong and Singapore next.

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