Australia’s Minister of Commerce on Vaccination Charges and Journey Bladders

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Police officers patrol the Sydney Opera House on July 11, 2021.

James D. Morgan | Getty Images

More Australians need to be vaccinated before the country builds travel bubbles and lets international students in.

Australia has closed its doors to the outside world since March 2020 and even banned its own citizens from returning from India last May.

Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan told CNBC that the easing of border restrictions and the return of foreign students to the country are still “a big part of the roadmap if we get out of this virus”.

“Of course we have to increase the vaccination rates. And as soon as we increase the vaccination rates further, we will check quarantine precautions, “he said on Tuesday in the” Squawk Box Asia “.

Tehan added that South Australia will begin implementing a domestic quarantine process. That trial is slated to take place for two weeks in September and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it could pave the way for Australians to leave and return, local media reported.

Australia has been criticized for its slow adoption of vaccines. According to Our World in Data, only 15.3% of the population was fully vaccinated as of August 1. Last week, local media reported that Morrison said the country must vaccinate 80% of its population before borders are reopened.

As soon as vaccination rates rise, Australia will try to let in more groups of people in, according to Tehan.

“So we’re going to try to lift the caps so more Australians can return home and then look for ways we can bring in international student business people who want to do business here in Australia,” he said.

Travel bubble plans

Largest city Sydney is battling a virus resurgence as cases hit record highs last week and the military was called in to enforce restrictions. Sydney last week extended its lockdown – which began in late June – for another four weeks as the Delta variant continued to spread.

Still, Tehan said Australia was “very interested” in building travel bubbles with countries that have handled the virus well, such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

“That’s still the plan. Obviously we are in a pandemic. So the plan can be adjusted and changed further, but … that’s what we see. We want to be able to open up and open up” with these countries Contact the basis of the medical advice when we know it is safe, “he said.