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Federal budget 2021 suggests international borders won’t reopen until mid-next year

The international border is expected to remain closed until mid-2022 and under the assumptions laid out in the budget, a quarantine program will remain in place, limiting overseas arrivals.

Some international travel may begin sooner, but the budget papers imply a gap between when borders fully reopen and when all Australians have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The budget assumes that a population-wide vaccination program will be “in place” by the end of the year but it doesn’t provide an exact number of people to be vaccinated by then.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the assumptions, pointing out that making guesses about the future is tough at the best of times.

“To make them during the middle of a pandemic is even more so,” he said.

“It’s quite a conservative, cautious assumption that international borders will gradually reopen from the middle of next year.”

So how might borders reopen?

According to the budget papers, “the rate of international arrivals will continue to be constrained by state and territory quarantine caps over 2021 and the first half of 2022”.

The assumptions expect a “gradual return of temporary and permanent migrants” from mid-2022, but also points to the potential for international students to travel sooner.

“Small phased programs for international students will commence in late 2021 and gradually increase from 2022,” the budget papers say.

The budget also leaves the door open for more bubble arrangements like that with New Zealand, saying quarantine caps will operate “with the exception of passengers from Safe Travel Zones”.

International tourism is not expected to pick up until the back half of 2022.

Source: ABC News.

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