PM expected to reveal flight path to international travel

International travel could resume as early as November with Scott Morrison poised to unveil the flight plan for lifting border closures.

The prime minister will hold a press conference on Friday when an announcement about travel restrictions abroad is expected.

Federal, state and territory governments have agreed to a plan that will lift all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated Australians when 80 percent coverage of the double dose is achieved.

The plan also aims to abolish international arrival limits for returning vaccinated Australians.

More than 45,000 people are stuck abroad waiting to come home and the NSW government says it wants to welcome thousands to the country when borders reopen.

Senior Cabinet Minister Simon Birmingham said careful steps will be taken to reopen international borders.

“There will be a cautious and phased approach,” he told Sky News.

“What we want to see regarding international borders is that we eventually reach a stage where people can move freely and confidently around the world again.”

The Australian border closed in March last year as the coronavirus spread like wildfire around the world and the number of cases rose domestically.

Prime Ministers in largely coronavirus-free states, including Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland, have indicated they are cautious about opening internal borders.

Morrison is expected to address the media before a national cabinet meeting with the territory’s state prime ministers and ministers.

Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would not agree to anything without seeing a detailed proposal.

“It’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get that courtesy to the national cabinet,” she told reporters in Brisbane.

She said state borders would not reopen until children were vaccinated and a large injection of federal money was made into hospitals to increase capacity.

“I would like people to be able to travel, but we will if it is safe,” Palaszczuk said.

Defense Secretary Peter Dutton said Flight Center’s threat of a legal challenge to close state borders was a reasonable position to take.

“When are you opening? At 90 percent, 100 percent?” he told the Nine Network.

“The fact is that we are not going to reach those levels. We see other countries living with this.”

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles warned that the government’s decision to shut down business and support workers at 80 percent could leave people behind.

“Obviously any business that depends on the openness of the international border, anything related to tourism, is not back to normal,” he said.

“It’s really important that we have support that empowers people to get to the other side because they have good, profitable businesses that can operate.”

The national cabinet will also receive a recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to make vaccination mandatory for all health professionals.

NSW recorded 15 deaths and 864 new cases, while in Victoria there were 1,143 infections and three deaths.

Queensland reported two new local cases, with the government resisting a lockdown despite five separate outbreaks.

-with MONKEY

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