Australia extends international travel ban (again) until June 2021
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The Australian government announced today that it is prolonging its ban on international travel by another three months.
Initially, the emergency ban was supposed to be lifted by Mar. 17 but the country’s Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Tuesday March 2, that the period will be extended until June 17.
He added that the rest of the world “continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk” to Australia’s borders and that “the extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety.”
This means that Australia will have been in a hard lockdown for a total of 15 months.
The rule isn’t just for people wanting to visit Australia — citizens aren’t allowed to leave the country either unless they are granted an exemption.
Previously, Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy had intimated that international borders may remain shut until 2022.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” Murphy said in an interview with ABC.
Murphy also said that even if most of the population was vaccinated this year as planned, “we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus.”
“And it’s likely that quarantine will continue for some time,” he continued. “One of the things about this virus is that the rule book has been made up as we go.”
Australia has consistently been one of the strictest nations regarding lockdown rules. It has banned its citizens from leaving since March 2020 and those returning home — be it citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions — have to quarantine in a designated hotel at their own expense for two weeks, costing about $2,300.
But it seems to be working. The country has so far reported only 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases in a population of 25 million. It currently has one-way inbound flights as part of its travel bubble with New Zealand, which began last year.
Meanwhile, dozens of tennis stars stuck in hotel quarantine ahead of the Australian Open were told they would get no “special treatment” to leave their rooms to train, despite complaints from some players. It is believed the government admitted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials in total.
“The world is changing so at the moment we have this light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine, so we will go as safely and as fast as we can to get the population vaccinated and we will look at what happens then,” Murphy said.
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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