Project hosts react to new EU travel guidelines for Australians

Steve Price has spoken out after Australia was removed from the EU whitelist, but the drama could be all smoke, no fire for some Australians.

Australians looking to vacation in Europe may have to put their long-awaited plans on hold after a new ruling halted work for a number of countries.

The European Union has designated Australia, Canada and Argentina as high risk – removing all three from their travel ‘whitelist’ amid Omicron’s latest push.

The European Council has advised member states to block visitors from Australia, which it has designated as a “Covid danger zone” due to rising numbers of Omicron cases.

This means Australians are likely to face restrictions on non-essential travel. The United States also now classifies Australia as high risk, even warning its citizens not to come here.

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The US has since advised citizens to avoid Australia because of Covid-19 – applying a Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory to the country ‘due to COVID-19 travel restrictions’ . The notice comes even though tourists are not yet allowed to enter.

Italy, Greece and Cyprus, on the other hand, have eased restrictions on the arrival of Australians.

The decision ended The Project panel on Monday night, with provocateur Steve Price adding his two cents.

“Imagine those (people) over there calling us Dirty, Dirty Australian Carriers,” said co-host Price.

Peter van Onselen analyzed the data and determined that a number of countries deeming Australia “unsafe” actually had far higher daily case counts than Down Under.

“On the numbers, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “Not only in overall terms for population size, there had been two and three times as many cases, but even on the current daily cases related to population size, European countries like France, Spain and Italy all have more cases per day than we do.

“So are they advising their citizens not to go to Australia, and are they also saying leave Europe, leave your own country.”

However, Flight Center chief executive Graham Turner believes the removal from the EU whitelist will have “minimal effect on vaccinated Australians traveling to Europe”.

“Each country in the EU has its own protocols and if you’re vaccinated, most don’t need pre-departure testing and isolation on arrival,” he said, via The Guardian.

“I think the indications are that within three to six weeks Australians will be able to fly to North America and the UK/Europe without pre-departure testing and tourists will be able to fly here under the same conditions.”

Currently, by population, Australia has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the world, second only to France. But despite the growing numbers, Australia has one of the lowest death rates in the world while the United States has the highest.

As expected, the airline industry is dealing with the weight of ever-changing travel guidelines.

Following Washington State Premier Mark McGowan’s announcement to extend the state’s border restrictions, Qantas has announced that the carrier will reduce its schedule from February 5 to the end of March by 10%.

In a statement released by the airline, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the current situation in the west was “deeply concerning”.

“The border situation in WA is deeply worrying. Feb. 5 was supposed to be ‘locked in’ to provide certainty,” Joyce said in a statement on Friday.

“Tens of thousands of people have booked travel on this base and we have brought many of our employees back to work on this base. Removing that certainty without a new timetable for reopening the border is a real blow not just to travel but to Australia as a whole.

“Other states have moved forward despite the challenges presented by Omicron because they know this virus is not going to go away. The rest of the country is focused on solving this, but WA is still looking to buy time , even if people do the right thing and get vaccinated.

“The question is what it will take for them to open. It is very difficult, as a company, to deal with this level of uncertainty.

Macquarie Research analysts said the Omicron variant and its spread across Australia had hurt the national recovery. But the good news is that while 2022 was supposed to be the year of recovery for the travel industry, the current variant will likely only be a temporary speed bump.

“We hope this is a passing phase,” wrote David Fabris and Gabrielle Emerick of Macquarie Securities.

“The delayed recovery will eat into earnings in the second half of 2022, with the domestic cost base fully loaded by the end of 2021 to be ready to fly with the expected recovery in travel demand.”

Mary I. Bruner