"In terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off," Senator Simon Birmingham said

By Claudia Harmata
June 17, 2020 01:23 PM
Advertisement
Getty

Australia is unlikely to open its borders to international travelers until 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham made the announcement on Wednesday, adding that the country's decision to shut the border was one of the main reasons for Australia was able to successfully contain the virus.

"I hope that we can look eventually at some of those countries who have similar successes in suppressing the spread of COVID to Australia and New Zealand, and in working ... with those countries to find safe pathways to deal with essential business travel that helps to contribute to jobs across our economies," Senator Birmingham told the National Press Club, according to the New Zealand Herald.

"I do sadly think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off," he added. "Just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first."

As borders remain closed, Australian citizens will be prohibited from overseas travel, unless under special exemptions for limited business travel.

Getty

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

However, Birmingham said that the government is looking to relax entry rules for students and other long-term visitors or returning citizens.

“We can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely,” he explained.

Australia first closed its borders in mid-March as the coronavirus began to spread around the globe.

Since the start of the pandemic, the nation — home to around 25 million people — has reported only 7,370 cases of the virus and 102 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins database. 

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.