Whether Australians will be freely allowed to travel overseas by the time winter starts remains unclear, however, and will depend on how COVID-19 vaccines work in practice.
“I do think July 1 is incredibly ambitious,” said Catherine Bennett, a professor of epidemiology at Deakin University.
“The concern is that whilst the vaccine will, we hope. make a profound difference to the way we manage this virus, it is not a panacea and won’t have a rapid impact.”
Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack this week said the government hadn’t given permission for overseas travel to open, and didn’t suggest it would by July.
“International borders will be opened when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians,” he said.
The uncertainty hasn’t deterred some buyers. Fewer than five seats at $964 each were left for sale Thursday on a July 1 Qantas flight to Los Angeles. Historically, the average price on the route is $US912 ($1170).
At the moment, Australia is not entirely cut off. For residents and citizens with permission to leave, usually on professional or compassionate grounds, 12 international flights are scheduled to leave Sydney on Friday.
The destinations include Singapore, Auckland, Hangzou, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.
Seven international flights are due to leave from Brisbane, two from Perth and one from Adelaide.
Many people expect that vaccines will allow Australia and countries in Asia that have contained the virus to loosen international air travel restrictions.
In December, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said vaccinations would be required to fly on Qantas international routes.