News National Europe’s borders may be open, but Australians might not be allowed to leave
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Europe’s borders may be open, but Australians might not be allowed to leave

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The European Union has agreed to allow Australians entry into any one of its 27 member countries, but don’t pack your bags or book your tickets just yet.

The Australian government must first sign off on anyone looking to travel outside the country – and the rules are strict.

The Department of Home Affairs has listed on its website six reasons that might make you eligible for an exemption to the blanket ban on international travel – if you’re a citizen or permanent resident.

The rules are much more relaxed for people who normally reside in another country.

Despite Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak, Australia, on the whole, seems to be handling the pandemic well enough to be added to the EU’s so-called “safe list”.

The EU has confirmed Australians will be allowed entry into EU nations again, from July 1.

With all the exemptions, what does that mean for you?

First, you must have checked off at least one of the government’s criteria to make you eligible for international travel. Ask yourself:

  • Is your travel part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid?
  • Is your travel essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including exports and imports)?
  • Are you travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia?
  • Are you travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business?
  • Are you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds?
  • Is your travel in the national interest?

If you can’t answer yes to at least one, it’s best you start looking at exploring your own backyard for an escape from hibernation.

If you’ve answered yes, you must have applied for an exemption between one week to three months before you want to head overseas.

If you’re not an Australian citizen or permanent resident and have spent more time outside Australia than inside in the past 12-24 months, you will not need to apply for an exemption.

The same applies to:

  • An airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
  • A New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • People engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight
  • People associated with essential work at Australian offshore facilities
  • People travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering which airline you can still book with, unfortunately, it’s slim pickings.

An unprecedented decline in demand for travel has forced major airlines, including Qantas, to ground most if not all international flights, with others reducing flight schedules.

And, a reduced demand does not automatically equate to cheaper flights.

Getting on a 24.5-hour return flight from Sydney to London via Cathay Pacific, for example, will cost you just over $3000.

Now that the EU will let you in, it’s a matter of seeing whether Australia will let you out and who will get you there.