Of the last weeks I have received many emails from international friends and clients asking ‘How we are doing in Australia?’ and ‘If we can travel’ yet?. The short answer to the first question is that by world standards we are doing extremely well with very little COVID across the country. We have been fortunate to have been able to keep our outbreaks more-or-less under control. This is more due to the populations general willingness and acceptance to wear masks and social distance than it is from anything our government has or has not done. All of our recent cluster outbreaks have started due to an escape of the virus from our hotel quarantine system (where incoming repatriation travellers are housed for 14 days). One of the biggest problems we have continually faced here in Australia is our governments continual mismanagement of hotel quarantine (they have just made a complete pigs breakfast of the entire management situation). To this end, we are just now today entering yet another 7-day lock down here in Victoria because of yet another escape of the virus from our bungled hotel quarantine system. We have around 25 cases as of today in the state I live; which is nothing by world standards; but still of serious concern considering we were COVID free just a few days ago.
The situation with international travel into and out of Australia is that all non-repatriation travel is banned. All non-Australian residents are banned from coming to Australia until further notice. Australians are banned from leaving the country without express special permission from the government. Permission can be granted on either bereavement purposes or for legitimate business reasons. My business, Wild Nature Photo Travel, has applied for an exemption and has been approved for international travel. I can now apply on a case by case basis to leave Australia for my business and will be doing so as required. I have received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and will in two weeks time be fully vaccinated.
The Australian governments roll out of the vaccine has been nothing short of appalling. Only a tiny percentage of our population is currently vaccinated; although this is finally starting to improve as of two weeks ago when more vaccine was released.