Following on from the excitement of the Prime Minister Announcement on the 1st of October, we are now at the cusp of once again re-joining the global community by re-opening our borders to the world. The time has come to start thinking, planning and preparing for the future of travel, but
“where do we start??”
“so many questions??”
“so much unknown??”
This all seems a little overwhelming at the moment.
We have therefore gathered our expert team and put together answers to some of the most frequently asked travel questions at the moment.
Welcome to the first part of our series – “Let me ask my Professional Travel Advisor”.
Let me ask my Professional Travel Advisor (Issue no.1)
When Will I be able to travel?
Australia plans to re-open to the world once we hit the magic number of 80% double vaccinated. The government is currently trialling a 7 day home quarantine model in NSW & SA in order to prepare for this. Under the plans being drawn up these new rules will only apply to vaccinated travellers. This means the dreaded arrival travel caps will no longer be in effect and people will be able to travel more freely. This is likely to happen sometime in November, but unfortunately, at the moment there is very little detail on this & as such most of the airlines have not opened up their flights to book at this stage. There have been some, like Qantas who are selling tickets into & out of Australia, but it is important to know they also do not currently have permission to operate, they are pre-empting sales before any government approval with the calculation that this will happen. So, November seems like a likely date – but at this stage whilst we start getting excited about the prospect, we must wait for more detail before we can actually turn this dream into a reality.
Where can I go?
Again this detail has not yet been released. Many countries overseas have established a “red list” of countries that they ban their citizens from travelling to, or have quite severe quarantine measures in place if returning from. These countries will include the worst performing from a COVID health perspective, we assume Australia will also go down a similar track whilst at the same time opening to the rest of the world.
Travel Tip: Aussies love to travel far & wide, but our strong recommendation for when travel does commence is to limit the number of destinations you are travelling to. This will minimise the issues of multiple jurisdictions with often different or conflicting COVID regulations.
Will I have to Quarantine?
The plan in Australia is to do away with hotel quarantine for returning passengers in favour of home self-isolation once we open up for vaccinated travellers. This model requires all the states to also agree and currently NSW, VIC & SA are all eager for this to happen (although at different implementation schedules).
When travelling overseas there are many different rules and regulations in place. Everything from no restrictions to full hotel quarantine or even denied access. These vary by country / where you are arriving from / where you transited / where you may have been in past 14 days / or even what airline and flight number you are travelling on. It is very important to make sure you are very aware of the rules of the airlines and countries you are travelling on/through/to.
What Documentation do I need?
Well obviously, first and foremost your passport – so dust it off & make sure it is still valid with at least 6 months validity from the date you plan on returning to Australia. Next, you will need your digital vaccination certificate from Medicare, please which should be loaded on your ‘MyGov’account to be accessed easily.
Once you have this all done, it is important to then check the airline and country requirements you are travelling to. Almost every jurisdiction now requires some form of paperwork to be completed and submitted before travel. Some can only be done within 48hrs of travel, others must be approved in advance. These requirements change not only by destination but may also differ based on where you are coming from, or even what airline you are flying. Airlines also have their own paperwork and requirements, which need to be submitted before the flight. So, in short, there will be many forms to be completed and it is essential that you make yourself familiar with all requirements.
What happens if things change whilst I am travelling?
This is obviously one of the greatest concerns. It is very important that you are continuously checking rules and regulations of countries you are travelling through/to for changes. These are happening all the time and sometimes very rapidly. This is why We therefore strongly suggest basing yourselves in a single country and not trying to conquer the entire world post COVID, this way you are actually in the country and will be able to make decisions as well as react to changes quickly once they occur.
What Travel insurance will cover me for Covid-19?
Now more than ever Travel insurance is ESSENTIAL. Don’t forget COVID is not the only illness out there, there are many other very important reasons to take out travel insurance e.g. accidents and other sicknesses, luggage and travel disruptions etc.
In terms of COVID cover related claims, at the moment most travel insurance companies do not cover countries with a DO NOT TRAVEL warning by DFAT, this basically excludes all countries at present. There are however some insurance companies who are offering Covid cover even with the DO NOT TRAVEL warning by DFAT is in place, provided you are travelling legally, meaning you have Australian government exemption to depart/return to Australia. Some airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines are also offering COVID cover as part of the airfare (but obviously you need to read the fine print and understand what is/isn’t covered)
For any further clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact us.