Holidaymakers to face Covid travel restrictions ‘until at least next year’

Quarantine-free travel might not return until the middle of 2022 according to a leading disease expert.

A massive vaccination roll out in Australia will still not stop everyone in the country catching coronavirus, Professor Peter Collignon of the Australian National University said.

As such travellers to and from high-risk destinations such as the UK could be forced to quarantine in "some form" for a long while yet, Daily Mail Australia reports.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants nationals to be able to freely travel to and from 'green-lane' countries where virus levels are low – but New Zealand is so far the only place to that qualifies.

Professor Collignon said it would not be safe for Australia to scrap quarantine rules as soon as a vaccine is rolled out around the world.

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He said: "If you look at people coming into Australia it's one or two per cent of returned travellers who have the virus when they land,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

"And if you have a vaccine that is 90% effective it means that instead of one or two in 100 we'll have one or two in a thousand – but that's still a very high risk of virus. That's as much as Melbourne was exposed to at the height of the winter outbreak.

"Until numbers come down around the world to really low levels – and on the basis that we want to keep numbers really low in Australia – I can't see how we're not going to have some sort of quarantine, whether at home or in a hotel, for a couple of weeks after you get back."

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Australia has recorded a total of 6,286 positive cases from travellers tested during hotel quarantine since March.

When asked travel could safely return to pre-pandemic normality Professor Collignon said: "My best guess is halfway through the middle of next year.

"I'm going to be very wary about making predictions until I see what happens in the northern hemisphere next winter because it's out of control there this winter.

"If we see very few cases in the northern hemisphere next winter, that's when I'll start to feel relieved.

"Too many people think 'the vaccine will be rolled out and life will go back to normal.'

"That is not realistic in my view because we quite rightly want to limit the spread of the virus."

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