AFTA Update | 3 November 2020
AFTA’s discussions with Federal Government around sector specific support continue. On Friday last week, AFTA CEO Darren Rudd spoke to the Prime Minister on a range of matters including a support package to rescue the sector, the early likelihood of a manufacture of a vaccine and his personal commitment to support the travel sector. It was a very positive discussion.
In more good news, over the weekend Australia achieved zero new cases of coronavirus community transmission for the first time in nearly five months. This was met with some very important decisions by several State Governments.
Tasmania has opened its borders, Western Australia has moved from hard to a soft border and Queensland has expanded its border openings.
There is certainly more to go and as confidence is built we should see free movement between the jurisdictions of New South Wales (including Sydney) and Queensland and as soon as everyone is comfortable with the standard of Victoria’s contract tracing we should see a single national travel bubble created and this will be good news for Australian’s and Australian businesses.
The low infection rates and the easing of restrictions in Victoria is good news for our Victorian Members. AFTA has worked closely with the Victorian Premiers’ office to help ensure clarity in the retail situation post lock-down and we are happy to advise that as a result of this, the Victorian government has confirmed that travel agents with retail premises may open under the third step. Where staff are travelling within the metropolitan area to attend their place of work they will not need to carry a work permit even if they are travelling beyond 25km. All businesses are required to have a COVIDSafe plan and AFTA will continue to communicate with members in Victoria on these requirements.
Whilst over the weekend we witnessed Australia opening back up, we also saw the UK Government announce the tightening of restrictions with the whole of the country going into lockdown again.
We recognise that while international borders remain closed travel agents will struggle and so AFTA is working hard on the matter of COVID safe travel and travel corridors.
This is also a key priority for the Federal Government who are looking to expand the hotel quarantine program and the capacity of repatriation flights, bringing more Australian’s back home whilst effectively controlling the infection rates. A matter that many agents have raised with AFTA.
In a press conference over the weekend, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, indicated that Australia is hoping to be offering the first set of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021 with the plan to progressively roll out the vaccine, with everyone who seeks to be vaccinated through the voluntary program completed during the course of 2021. This would make it much easier for international borders to open and Australians to travel overseas and return. Confirmation of a vaccine would be a welcomed Christmas gift by all.