Road sign in front of Uluru in Central Australia
Photo: TIM WIMBORNE / REUTERS
Australia's external borders have been practically closed for more than a year.
Even many Australians often struggle to enter their home country.
There are only a few exceptions for foreigners.
With this measure, the country reacted very early and consistently to the pandemic.
Vaccinations are now progressing in many parts of the world - and travelers and the tourism industry are hoping for an easing.
But it doesn't look like that at the moment.
In an interview with Sky News, Minister of Commerce and Tourism Dan Tehan spoke about the regulations.
He does not consider a complete opening before »the middle or even the second half of 2022« to be realistic.
"It's a crystal ball story," said Tehan, referring to the global corona situation.
However, watch waves like in India now and act accordingly.
From there, Australian citizens can re-enter from May 15th.
The government had previously imposed a complete entry ban with sometimes draconian penalties due to the virus situation.
This had caused angry reactions in Australia.
According to Minister Tehan, some countries could come under special regulations in the medium term.
There is currently a so-called "travel bubble" with New Zealand.
Air travel between the two countries has been possible again for a little over a week without major hurdles.
Similar solutions are also conceivable with other countries, said Tehan Sky News.
This is also desirable for the tourism and aviation industries.
Airports empty, metropolises in lockdown
Thanks to strict measures, Australia has so far got through the pandemic very lightly.
The country closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents in March 2020.
Such a regulation is comparatively easy to implement at only a few international airports and ports.
So far, 29,800 cases and 910 deaths have been recorded in Australia.
Whole large cities, most recently Queensland's metropolis Brisbane, are immediately sent into lockdown for days if an infection is detected.
The tracking of contact persons also works well, but the vaccination program is getting off to a rather slow start.