Three out of four Australians want to keep international borders shut - even if the entire population is vaccinated against COVID-19, a new poll suggests

James D. Morgan/Getty Images
  • An astounding 73% of Australians are in favour of keeping the international border closed until at least mid-2022, even if vaccinations are offered to the entire eligible population.
  • Newspoll data reported by The Australian suggests the majority of Australians are content to keep the hardline border approach in play until the COVID-19 pandemic is contained worldwide.
  • The report comes as the university and tourism sectors struggle to supplement the hotel quarantine system to bolster the number of arrivals.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Three out of four Australians want the international border to remain shut until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control worldwide, even if the nation achieves full vaccination, a new survey has found.

An exclusive Newspoll survey shows 73% of respondents are happy to keep borders closed until at least mid-2022 — the timeframe for reopening suggested in last week’s federal budget announcement — The Australian reports.

Those respondents said Australia should maintain its hardline border policies for at least another year, even if the federal government reaches its stated goal of vaccinating every eligible Australian by the end of 2021.

Support for extended border closures was relatively even across party lines, with 78% of Coalition supporters backing the closure, compared with 71% of Labor voters.

Women were more likely to support the ongoing measure, with 78% supporting the brick wall approach compared to 69% of men.

Older Australians were significantly more likely to support the closure, with 80% of those aged over 50 backing the strategy, compared to 63% of those aged 18-34.

The survey, which polled 1,506 people, suggests a disconnect between voters shellshocked by a year of lockdowns, restrictions, and COVID-19 flare-ups, and business, tourism, and education leaders, whose sectors have been ravaged by a lack of migrants and holiday-makers.

And the results will be warmly welcomed by leading federal government figures, who have swatted away criticism of its severe border policies from human rights groups and health experts.

Around 9,000 Australians are stranded in India alone, with many more hoping to return from other nations.

“Different form of quarantine” is “many months” away, Morrison says

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday that allowing vaccinated Australians to travel interstate during domestic border closures is “the next step” in the nation’s long-term border plan, foreshadowing the opening of the international border to “safe countries”.

But any plans to permit vaccinated travellers to enter the country through “abridged or a different form of quarantine” is still “many months” away, Morrison said.

Potential options to boost the number of arrivals without fully opening the border include a plan from the NSW university sector to provide quarantine accommodation for international students, which Morrison said the federal government would look at “very favourably.”

Similarly, health experts say the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled for November in Melbourne, might not take place unless teams and organisers are granted exemptions from existing hotel quarantine arrangements. It is but one example of how major events are unlikely to occur in Australia while arrivals are required to spend two weeks in isolation.

Such plans are yet to receive the federal tick of approval, causing uncertainty for Australia’s flagging university and events sectors.

Even the government’s goal of offering vaccinations to all eligible Australians by the end of 2021 — a measure underpinning hopes of eased quarantine restrictions — is contingent on a massive acceleration of the national rollout.

Amid all of that confusion, one thing has become clear. For a decent portion of the Australian public, no preventative measure feels as complete as a closed border, even if the decision hurts many on either side of the barrier.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.