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The majority of us have felt the after-effects of the coronavirus travel ban. Whether you had to cancel flights, or found yourself unable to return to your home country, it is very unlikely you have been totally unscathed by the lack of international travel we expect to face for the foreseeable future.

Most of us are chomping at the bit to know when international flights will be open again, for a variety of reasons. Here’s what we’re hearing when it comes to international travel. 

Current restrictions on international travel

Arriving in Australia 

Australia’s borders are currently closed for the foreseeable future. This means that only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members (spouses, de facto partners, dependent children, legal guardians) can travel to Australia. Citizens of New Zealand who reside in Australia may also re-enter the country. 

Travellers who have compassionate or compelling reasons to enter Australia may apply for an exemption. 

On returning to Australia, travellers will need to be quarantined for 14 days, and more vigorous health screening on arrival may also apply. 

Departing from Australia 

Since March 25, all overseas travel by Australian citizens and permanent residents has been banned. 

Australian citizens and permanent residents who wish to depart from Australia will need to apply for an exemption to do so. 

The limited exceptions to the travel bans in place include: 

  • Your travel is of national interest
  • Your travel is on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • Your travel is related to unavoidable/urgent personal business
  • Your travel is due to a need to access medical care that is not available in Australia 
  • Your travel is for essential/critical industries and/or businesses
  • Your travel is part of the COVID-19 response, including the provision of aid. 

Those who need to depart from Australia for the above reasons may apply for a travel exemption here.

International visitors have been encouraged to leave the country, with the knowledge that they may be able to re-enter Australia in the future if certain entry conditions allow them to do so. 


Social distancing updates


When will the coronavirus travel ban be lifted? 

There is no set date as to when the coronavirus travel ban will be lifted. 

There was no information about when international travel will re-open included in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s three-stage roadmap to recovery.

As it stands, Scott Morrison says the government is not even considering international travel. First borders within Australia will be re-opening, and then travel to and from New Zealand will be considered for citizens and permanent residents of Australia. 

In a press conference on May 13, Alexandre de Junaic, CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that:

“International travel cannot restart under the current conditions. In a recent survey that we did in 11 markets,

  • 84% of travellers said that quarantine measures were one of their top concerns; and
  • 69% essentially said that they would not return to travel under such conditions.”

Further, de Junaic said it may take until 2023 for air travel to return to 2019 levels, however, he also said that by the end of 2020, the airline industry could be back to 50-55% capacity.

At this point, there is no solid evidence or data to back this claim up. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to determine when travel will re-open globally, when the severity of the COVID-19 crisis is existing in such stark contrasts across the globe. It is unlikely that international travel to and from Europe, the UK and the US will all kick off on the same dates. 

In contrast to de Juniac’s guesstimation of when travel will re-commence, Flight Centre boss Graham Turner told the ABC he believes travel will be back to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels by this coming August, September or October. Something tells me this is unlikely. 

Unfortunately, we do not have a final, or accurate, estimate as to when the coronavirus travel ban will be lifted, or when we will be able to take international flights once again. When we do, we will make sure this article is updated to keep you informed on movements as they happen.


Read: Can you get coronavirus twice?

Peter Fray

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