When will we be allowed to travel again?


The recent loosening of social-distancing restrictions across the states and territories in Australia has many of us asking the same question: when will we be allowed to travel again?

While missing out on a holiday is certainly low on the list of coronavirus-related issues, it's still comforting to know when we'll be allow to resume our travels. Holidays are a well-deserved rest and reprieve for many and a long-awaited excitement for families.

Unfortunately, it will likely be a long time before international travel resumes as normal. Every country has taken its own approach to handling the coronavirus outbreak. Countries like France implemented strict lockdowns and others like Sweden are taking a far more relaxed approach. With suggestions that the coronavirus could develop into an endemic in places like the USA, international travel is something that will controlled carefully - and rules will likely vary from country to country.

But what about regional travel?

Many of us have spent long hours pondering escapes to the plains of Uluru, the wineries of the Southern Highlands and certainly the calming waters of the Mornington Peninsula.

And while regional travel is more promising, it's more complicated. While the Federal Government can remove bans on regional travel, it's ultimately up to the state governments and Premiers to decide the policies for their states.


Given the size of the ACT, the potential for regional travel will really depend on whether other states like NSW allow interstate travel. But residents have had a few restrictions eased. For those wanted to travel into the ACT, this could still be a while off. The ACT government has said it's not in a race to lift restrictions.



Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland has said that intrastate travel for Queenslanders should be possible by the June school holidays. On June 12, you'll be able to drive up to 250km for recreational travel. But it's likely that the Queensland border will remain closed to those outside the state until July.



The South Australian Premier Steven Marshall is actively encouraging intrastate travel. Those in South Australia have been able to travel freely around the state since May 11. Those wanting to enter South Australia from another state will need to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Regional travel will be discussed again around June 8.



In Western Australia residents can travel within the Mid-West, Gascoyne and Pilbara; the Goldfields-Esperance region; and within the Kimberley - but these regions will not be able to travel to Perth. Travel restrictions will be lifted in the South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Peel regions to allow travel into Perth. As for travellers from other states, the WA border is still shut and there is still a big question mark as to when it will open.



At this stage, Tasmanians are only allowed to drive within 30 kilometres of their homes. So most travel within the state is still off the cards. Tasmania has no plans to allow interstate traveller in any time soon. The state has said that the borders will not open at any point during its three step plan to ease restrictions. The third step begins on July 13, which suggests that Tasmanian borders may remain shut until August.



Those in the Northern Territory can visit parks and campgrounds and from June 5, all business, facilities and services will be able to resume. But, if you were hoping for an interstate trip to Uluru, you'll be disappointed.  The NT state border will stay shut for quite some time. Chief Minister Michael Gunner has expressed concern over border controls between states with higher infection rates.



The situations are very different in New South Wales and Victoria. As the two most populous states, they have the highest infection rates. As a result, other states are very cautious about opening borders to travellers from these areas. Victoria is yet to make any concessions around travel, but NSW will allow recreational trips intrastate from June 1. Campgrounds in Victoria remain closed and those in New South Wales are still restricted from recreational travel.


But there is still a bright spot on the international-travel horizon. Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison have both been very open about their plans to establish a 'travel bubble" between New Zealand and Australia which is likely to happen this year - and will potentially start during snow season. There are still a lot of maybes and questions, but if all goes well, it might be possible for us to start planning some small scale travel sooner than you think.