32 People Share What They Think Of Australia's Indefinite Travel Ban
"Travelling is a luxury, not a right...Your desire to travel or see family should not be at the expense of people's lives."
With no foreseeable opening to Australia's strict border closures, we asked the BuzzFeed community to tell us how they felt about the indefinite travel ban.
1. "I think that if the Australian government actually set a date for the borders reopening and international travel was contingent on you being vaccinated, then everyone I know would rush to get vaccinated."
"At the moment, there's literally no reason for people to want the vaccine, which is a huge problem. They've made this bubble of normality for everyone in Australia, it's not like the UK and US where the vaccine is their only chance at returning to what we've enjoyed for over a year now."
2. "There’s a painful irony in all this given Australia’s history as a penal colony. I can see why Aussies are upset by the travel ban being labelled 'indefinite' and the fact that non-native celebrities are allowed to come and go, but not actual Australians with dying relatives. That is disgusting. I’d be bloody incensed."
"I understand them wanting to keep Covid out, but you've got to have a balance. I’m British and we have the opposite problem — a government hell-bent on letting people come and go as they like, with no properly enforced quarantine measures and a seemingly arbitrary list of countries you can or can’t go to or arrive from."
3. "If Rita Ora — who famously had a birthday party and paid for the CCTV cameras to be switched off at the venue in the middle of a pandemic — is allowed in the country, why can't citizens leave to visit family? I'm reading about so many Indians who are stuck in Australia and cannot see their sick family members (even in their final days), but celebrities can come and go and have (white) parties as they please."
4. "As an American, I think it’s ridiculous to ban citizens from their own country. I get not allowing non-citizens into the country right now, but there is no reason that all Australian citizens can’t simply be put into a mandatory (and monitored) quarantine upon returning home."
5. "I think it's infuriating that Australia has been letting so many celebrities into the country for non-essential reasons, when so many Australians have been struggling to get back into their own country."
"I'm also upset that I have been unable to see my boyfriend of six years for what is approaching two years now. Meanwhile, my little sister (who is not in Australia) has been to the US twice during the pandemic to see her boyfriend — without any consequences. It seems uncertain that exemptions will be granted even after people have been fully vaccinated."
6. "Our strict border policy has worked well for us so far, and I’m glad we had it last year. But with vaccine rollout in full swing (at least, in other countries), it’s crucial we allow people to travel. Make it contingent on being vaccinated, sure, but let people travel here and let us travel again!"
"We have this catch 22 where people aren't getting the vaccine because it’s so safe from COVID here, but if people don’t get it, we have to keep borders tightly closed. If we opened borders, more people would have to get the vaccine and we'd have to be a bit less risk averse and stop shutting states down when there’s a tiny bit of community transmission.
"Again, that’s worked great so far, but we need to change! Basically, I think we should slowly open the borders (start with NZ, Singapore, other countries we have good relationships with, then open up worldwide) and allow vaccinated people to travel!"
7. "Travelling is a luxury, not a right. There was a window of opportunity to return to Australia at the start of the pandemic, or to leave Australia and return home to your country. You were given the opportunity to do so."
"While there may not have been a huge amount of time to make that decision — and I’m sympathetic that it would be a very difficult choice to make — it was still YOUR choice to make, and we all made it.
Being apart from family must be awful, but being separated from family is surely better than potentially hundreds of thousands of people dying from an outbreak. Seeing family should not be a priority over people’s lives.
Travelling internationally is not a human right. It is a luxury. We will be able to travel again — maybe in one year, maybe in five years — but your desire to travel or see family should not be at the expense of people’s lives."
8. "Requiring all citizens who wish to return to enter mandatory, paid quarantine is unfair and it means that only rich people can come home. There are Australians stranded overseas who can't even AFFORD to come home, because of the increase in flight costs and the cost of hotel quarantine."
9. "I had to make the decision whether to stay in Australia and work as a nurse/midwife in a job I loved, or see my family. It’s a decision that boils down to what you can live with."
"If my family overseas became ill, could I live with myself knowing that I couldn’t be by their side? I’m back in Canada now, a nurse with no job due to national registration restrictions, but at least I can see my mum."
10. "Until Australia and the rest of the world get vaccinated, it’s safest for them to keep their borders closed. Their citizens have worked too hard to throw it away when we’re so close to getting on top of the pandemic."
11. "I just had a family member in Italy die and, as an Italian, I can’t even go back right now. The travel ban makes sense given how many variants and how bad COVID is. Sorry it sucks, but you’re not thinking of the consequences."
12. "The policy made sense at the beginning of the pandemic, when we couldn’t assess the risk or put in place effective mitigations. But it’s now become a lazy crutch for the government and the general public. Australians have loved ones and legitimate reasons to go overseas and have been very patient — but over a year has passed and indications are that it will be another year."
"We need to engage with risk — this means that some sort of principled, accelerated opening will need to happen, as well as not pandering to the vaccine-hesitant who 'want to wait and see what happens'. We are going to be left behind if we don’t step up. Issue more exemptions, improve return quarantine and get bloody vaccinated with whatever one of the very good jabs are being offered!"
13. "I fully support keeping the borders closed until we are mostly vaccinated. We are using the fact that we are an island to our advantage and thankfully, because of how strict we have been, we’ve seen very little death compared to other countries."
"Having a partner who works directly on the COVID response, I can’t take seeing him work beyond the point of burnout again like in 2020. I think everyone who worked on the frontlines did an amazing job going above and beyond and if we can sit tight for another year to ensure they can recover and that everyone has the opportunity to be vaccinated, then that seems like the best plan."
14. "The Australian travel ban has made it impossible for my parents in Australia to meet their grandson in the UK. The pace of the Australian vaccination campaign and general apathy of the Australian government will likely mean they will not meet him until he is three years old. We’re lucky we have FaceTime and Zoom, but it’s not comparable to meeting in person."
15. "I think it’s smart to ban travel for pleasure or non-citizens, but it’s a little messed up to not allow or make it super difficult for your own citizens to get home."
16. "As someone who is in Canada, I wish we had a strict ban like that, my province went months with no cases and several people travelled, but now we have recorded our highest numbers ever and deaths for the first time in months. It’s not worth it!"
17. "Aussie expat of 20 years here. I chose to live away from my family and don’t necessarily think quarantine requirements are bad, but we’re over a year into this pandemic and the government has done bugger all to effectively expand quarantine numbers to allow Aussies to return if they need to."
"I had a friend who lost her job overseas due to the pandemic and had to return to Australia. It took six months for her to get on a flight! I don’t think the government has put nearly enough into making sure there are quarantine spaces available for this to be a long-term strategy."
18. "I think we should be bringing home citizens and permanent residents who got stranded overseas. But that’s all. I don’t care about your holidays to Bali or wanting see your family overseas. I spent nearly nine months in lockdown as a single parent and it was so unbelievably awful that I never want to do it again."
19. "I definitely prefer what Jacinda Arden is doing in New Zealand. You have to pay for your border quarantine if you want to re-enter, but you're allowed to leave whenever you want as long as the destination country will take you."
20. "American here, separated from Australian partner for 15 months. I have been through every emotion during this difficult time. Devastation, fear, anger, outrage, hopelessness, numbness, happiness, apathy and it goes in cycles. The first thing that stood out to me when the ban first started was that Australians just didn't seem that upset about it."
21. "I am disgusted by the travel ban. Safety is important, but basic freedoms are important too. Stripping basic freedoms and defending it in the name of safety is a very slippery slope."
"We can't keep the borders closed until the entire planet has COVID under control, because that might be literally never. Removing rights in the name of safety is how literally every fascist regime got started — and defining 'outside' as the source of all problems and 'foreigners' as the source of danger is the basic definition of xenophobia."
22. "I think our vaccination program, along with hotel quarantine, needs to be massively ramped up before we even consider opening the border again."
23. "People whine about it until COVID effects them personally. People expect a quick fix, where they can do whatever they want without having to think and with no risk of infection themselves. Basically impossible. Of course, it's freaking 'indefinite'. Get your asses vaccinated. Same goes for us Kiwis. Get your asses vaccinated and take some basic steps."
24. "While this border closure is billed as a measure to keep Australian citizens safe, I can't help but feel it's also reducing the quality of life for many of those same citizens. Those who haven't seen their loved ones in 15 months. Those who may never get to meet their grandchildren. Those who rely on travel for research and education and are now denied those opportunities. Those who migrate to work thankless jobs to feed their families, but cannot do so now."
"The stories are endless and heartbreaking (especially with no timeline in sight and as celebrities come and go with no problem). The sad truth is that the Australian government is failing to acknowledge these struggles in a meaningful way. The question is no longer how do we get rid of COVID-19, but how do we move forward and live with it?"
25. "The fact that celebrities can come in and out as they damn well please, but an ordinary citizen is not allowed to see their dying loved one is disgusting. I understand that last year there needed to be hard measure, but now it is just ridiculous. We have to learn to deal with it."
"It's an abuse of power and prime minister Scott Morrison has a second rate mind. The fact that this government thinks it is okay to jail citizens for wanting to come home is disgraceful and it makes me feel ashamed to be Australian."
26. "I was in a relationship with an Australian citizen and we met a few months before COVID, but haven’t seen each other since January 2020 because of restrictions. We have broken up several times because of the hardship of being long distance with no end in sight. This past year has been the worst of my life because of travel restrictions and the lack of progress with opening up again."
27. "I am one of the unfortunate many who is separated from my Aussie partner (I am American). Let me say that it is excruciating and the mocking/utter lack of empathy that myself and others in this situation have received makes it worse."
"Of course the borders should not be wide open, but I wish the government would find creative solutions instead of the current 'all or nothing' approach (consider the UK's traffic light system). Yes, I know that you can apply for exemptions, but as someone who has applied for an inbound exemption over 40 times — providing countless evidence of a genuine, committed relationship — only to be rejected each time, it may as well be nothing."
28. "My husband and I both have our parents living overseas. We were meant to see them in April 2020, but had to cancel. I've had a second child since then, as has my sister. I'm very close to my family and we do a big holiday every year, but its now been two years since I've seen them and the hardest thing mentally is that the date for possible borders opening keeps getting pushed back."
"I've been reading articles about vaccine hesitancy because there is no incentive. If it were up to us, we would get my vaccine now, save up all my pennies for hotel quarantine (which would be a nightmare with a toddler and a baby) and make the huge journey to see them again. I love that things are so 'normal' in Australia, I don't think many people want to put that at risk. But let those who are willing get vaccinated, see their families and isolate when they get back!"
29. "I've been fighting an unbearable bladder disease for eight years and there are English researchers who'll prescribe long-term high-dose antibiotics to people in my position and who claim an 80+% success rate."
"In normal times, I'd be free to go and try it. Now I have to apply for government permission — knowing that, even if they let me leave, I might not be able to get back to Australia for years. How will I support myself? What happens if the treatment doesn't work and I still need the toilet every minute? I wouldn't even need to leave if there was more research on diagnoses and treatments. I wish governments cared even 10% as much about chronic disease as they do about COVID."
30. "I've been in the UK for two years and my visa is ending soon with no hopes of extension. I'll be fully vaccinated and just want to come back to my family but flights are obscenely expensive and I can't afford the cost of them plus hotel quarantine."
"My grandmother passed away last year and I wasn't able to come back for the funeral due to flight cancellations and border closures. I completely understand the need for quarantine and want to keep my family and friends safe, but it's clear that it's not a sustainable long term system.
"The vaccine rollout has also been incredibly embarrassing to watch from afar, given the Australian government has had months to prepare and put systems in place. I've also been appalled and saddened by the reaction of the government and regular Australians to the flight of those stranded abroad and have felt an immense lack of compassion and empathy, the 'you chose to leave, so stay there' mentality has made me feel unwanted by my own country."
31. "My partner is stuck in the UK (he is from there), to think there is every chance we're going to have to go 2+ years without being able to see each other is heartbreaking."
"I understand why non-citizens/permanent residents aren't allowed to come to Australia, but those in the same or similar position as I am aren't given the option to leave. We're lucky here to have had a pretty normal life compared to overseas, but I would happily go over to the UK now if it meant that I could be back with my partner."
32. And finally: "I would give up travelling if it meant I didn’t have to wear a mask everywhere I went anymore, if it meant I could go to a movie theatre again, if it meant I could actually have dinner inside a restaurant again, if it meant I could go to my grandmother’s house again."
"I get what Australia is doing is strict, but after over a year of this shit, and we are still under our third lockdown that keeps getting extended, I would take a travel ban over this. I haven’t been to a movie theatre or restaurant in over a year. I haven’t been to my grandmother's house since 2019. Life is too fucking short and we are losing precious time with the people we love because people can’t get over themselves and grow the fuck up and just follow the rules, or even get vaccinated."
Do you agree or disagree with what's been said in the post about Australia's indefinite travel ban? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.