Coronavirus International Travel Update: November 1 Australian borders open – but many Australians still cannot return home, ‘suffering’

Tomorrow will be a day of celebration for many Australians, who will finally be reunited with a loved one abroad and at home again as borders open.

But for others, heartache persists.

There are currently 46,800 Australians registered with the authorities who want to return home.

And although it will be much easier to get to NSW, Victoria or ACT, now the borders are open and there is no quarantine for those vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine, for people from other states or those that are not considered stung, the outlook is still bleak.
Paul Harris, 70, is trying to get home from New Zealand to Perth with partner Kellie-Jane Pritchard.
Paul Harris, 70, is trying to get home from New Zealand to Perth with partner Kellie-Jane Pritchard. (Included)

Paul Harris, 70, is trying to get from New Zealand to Perth with partner Kellie-Jane Pritchard.

Their flight in September was canceled and they have not been able to find another.

And Western Australia has not yet set a reopening plan with Premier Mark McGowan suggests that it may go well into next year before ceilings that only allow 265 arrivals a week and $ 3,000 hotel quarantine are gone.

Even if they fly to NSW or Victoria, they cannot cross the border.

Lock-in restrictions will end in the Perth and Peel regions as planned.
Western Australia has not yet established a reopening plan. (Getty)

The couple was sold in Wellington in September and have neither home nor car.

They are also desperate to come back to see his mother, who is 94.

“We are stranded in New Zealand without knowing when flights to Australia may resume,” Harris told 9News.

“We live here now thanks to the charity of our friends.”

A lone runner along Devonport's waterfront as Auckland wakes up to level four lockdown.
Paul Harris, 70, is trying to get from New Zealand to Perth with partner Kellie-Jane Pritchard. (Getty)

Free travel in or out of Australia has not been allowed since the borders closed on March 20, 2020 – almost 600 days ago.

Permission has been required to depart, and strict flight caps have prevented more than a handful of people from being allowed on each flight.

This in turn made flights scary and very expensive.

India
Aussies were banned from coming from India. (Getty)

Professor Tim Soutphommasane, a political theorist at the University of Sydney, told 9News that the travel ban was almost unprecedented globally and had proved “suffering” to thousands of Australians.

“China, Hong Kong and New Zealand are perhaps the only other places that have taken a similar approach,” he said.

“It’s a fundamental right to citizenship that you must be able to get in and out of your country.

“It was unscrupulous that we did not allow other Australians to return home beyond a very small limit of arrivals.

“Some states still hold on to a belief in zero COVID.

“But at some point, everyone in Australia will have to accept that we cannot remove the virus.”

A ferry in Sydney Harbor.
Tourists and other visa holders, such as students, remain prohibited. (Dominic Lorrimer)

Tourists and other visa holders, such as students, continue to be prohibited from entering unless they can obtain special permission.

This has resulted in labor shortages with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet eager to give them back.

And workers living in Australia on temporary visas cannot travel either, as they would not be allowed to return.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said: “We are doing everything we can to help Australians who stay abroad return.

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“Since the start of the pandemic, DFAT has helped over 59,100 Australians return, including over 30,800 people on 200 government – facilitated flights.”

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