Australian Businesses Want Air Travel Back by Christmas

Australian Businesses Want Air Travel Back by Christmas
Arrival from New Zealand at Sydney International Airport in Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 16, 2020. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

Australian businesses are urging state and federal leaders to restart domestic travel by Christmas, warning border restrictions are costing $319 million a day.

More than 34,000 local aviation workers have been sacked or stood down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Business Council of Australia warns many more jobs are at risk if state border restrictions remain in place.

"Every day flights remain grounded costs Australia $69 million or $2.1 billion a month," BCA chief Jennifer Westacott said on Oct 22.

"When you add in international aviation losses at $250 million a day or $7.6 billion per month, we are talking about an enormous hit to our economy."

Westacott said the economic recovery would be faster and stronger if agreement could be reached on a national timetable and transparent protocols for removing domestic travel restrictions.

"We are not asking for a free-for-all," she said.

"We need a highly-targeted, careful and gradual reopening of the economy based on health advice with robust nationally consistent systems in place."

The Business Council wants national cabinet - which meets for the first time in five weeks on Friday - to unveil a travel plan.

The first steps towards international travel have already begun with New Zealanders allowed into Australia under a one-way arrangement.

Asked whether the travel bubble could be extended to other countries, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said: "Let's crawl before we walk."

Victoria has recorded five new cases of coronavirus as health authorities race to contain an outbreak that has put five Melbourne suburbs and a public housing block on alert.

Experts are also monitoring the extremely rare case of a Victorian reinfected with the virus.

Only six coronavirus reinfections have been recorded across the world.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said such cases were at "the absolute end of the spectrum".

"At this stage the best advice is that the case from Victoria is one of those very rare reinfection cases but the science will be followed and the top infectious disease experts in the country are looking at it," he said.

NSW Health is urging people who attended the Bathurst 1000 motor race and local residents to monitor for symptoms after coronavirus was detected in raw sewage.

The state recorded one local case on Thursday and six infections in hotel quarantine.

A diplomat aged in his seventies has also become the first coronavirus case in Canberra for more than 100 days.

The man flew into Sydney from overseas on Oct. 9 and drove on to Canberra in a private car.

He has been in quarantine since his return to the ACT.

By Daniel McCulloch