Travel to Bali could be a reality for Australians within months after the Indonesian government flagged plans to reopen the tourist mecca as early as October.
The Indonesian government is considering reopening the resort island to countries with a low spread of Covid-19 including Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.
Australia could be added to the list of countries accepted to fly to Bali if it achieves a milestone of 80 per cent of citizens fully-vaccinated by November.
Indonesia recorded upwards of 50,000 new Covid cases each day at the peak of its outbreak in July but has since seen infections fall by nearly 95 per cent.
Good times in Bali could be about to resume for Australians, with the island set to be reopened in October or November
Aussies are among Bali’s main visitors, with 1.23million Australians visiting the island in 2019 before the pandemic struck
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said ‘vaccine passports’ are key to the next stage of the national plan when Australia’s borders – both internal and external – will finally be re-opened.
Qantas has flagged resuming flights overseas on December 18.
Our northern neighbour will focus on its own Covid recovery milestones first though.
‘We are happy today that the reproduction rate is below one,’ said Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, said at a media conference on Friday.
‘It is the lowest during the pandemic and is indicating the pandemic is under control,’
Indonesia’s hospital bed occupancy rates have been falling, as have positive case rates.
Less than five per cent of Indonesians tested have returned positive results in recent weeks.
Mr Luhut said if these trends continued, the borders could be reopened in October.
With Australians able to travel overseas again in December, places like Legian, Bali (pictured) will be top of the list for many Aussies desperate to travel
The normally packed streets of Kuta have been virtually empty during the pandemic
Previously Indonesia said it planned to start opening its borders to foreigners in November once 70 per cent of its target population have received at least one vaccine shot.
Health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said he was taking cues from the strategy adopted by Britain, which he said prioritized rolling out first doses and had achieved a lower rate of hospital admissions and fatalities.
‘So for us we concentrate on the first dose. If we can vaccinate 70 per cent of the target population of 208 million, if we can hit 140-150 million, 70 per cent with the first dose, then we can gradually start reopening,’ he said.
‘And my calculation is that will be reached by November.’
The November 2021 timeline is the first time a senior Indonesian minister has committed publicly to a dateline for reopening the country´s borders.
Only foreign nationals who have diplomatic or working visas, or are eligible for other exemptions, are permitted to enter Indonesia.
Budi said border restrictions would be eased even further once 70 per cent of the target population had received two doses.
Australian citizens line up as they wait for a repatriation flight at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali in August
Indonesia has recorded more than 4.1 million coronavirus cases and 139,000 deaths from COVID-19, but the positivity rate – the number of those tested who are positive – has dropped. It was 31% in late July, but was 2 per cent on Tuesday.
Social restrictions have been in place since early July, but have gradually eased to allow malls, restaurants, cinemas and factories to operate at limited and conditional capacity.
Southeast Asia´s largest economy, struck by one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia, has vaccinated about 25 per cent of its target population but Budi said vaccine rates would need to be almost doubled to 2 million shots per day by deploying the police and army to help dispense shots.
Indonesia’s inoculation program has been hampered by distribution and logistics problems, and vaccine hesitancy, but it hopes more than 140 million people will have been vaccinated twice by next March.
The health ministry is looking to use a network of about 300,000 midwives from the national family planning agency to help accelerate vaccinations, based on a model trialed in West Java.
Indonesia, the world´s fourth most populous country, has the sixth highest number of people who have received their first vaccine dose, the minister said, after China, the United States, India, Brazil and Japan.
Budi said he could not guarantee there would not be a third surge of infections in Indonesia.
‘It is extremely difficult to predict,’ he said.
Kuta beach has gone quiet during the pandemic but should be bustling again soon
A lone surfer heads for the waves at Caggu, Bali last month
WHAT CAN YOU DO ON ‘FREEDOM DAY’?
Only fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have restrictions against them reduced under the Reopening NSW roadmap.
Lesser restrictions for vaccinated people will come into effect on the Monday after NSW hits the 70 per cent double dose target and include:
Gatherings in the home and public spaces:
· Up to five visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 20 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms:
· Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
· Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
· Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
· Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
· Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities:
· Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
· Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
· Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship:
· Up to 50 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 50 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with no singing.
· Domestic travel, including trips to regional NSW, will be permitted.
· Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
· Carpooling will be permitted.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
· Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
· Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
· Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.