Australia is likely to keep its borders shut to international travelers till 2021 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Australian Commerce Minister Simon Birmingham has announced that one of the reasons for the successful containment of the virus in Australia was the decision to close the borders. He added that international border restrictions are likely to continue for some time.
While talking to the media personnel, he maintained that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, which now remains quite off-the-hook, because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to keep putting health first.
When he was specifically asked if it was more likely to happen next year, he added, “I think that is more likely the case”.
It’s been three months since COVID-19 introduced a permanent international travel ban, making it essential for the Aussies to leave the country in very limited circumstances.
Now that all other restrictions across the country are being gradually relaxed as part of Australia’s general roadmap, overseas travel doesn’t seem to be on the agenda any time soon.
Therefore, with borders remaining closed, Australian citizens will not be allowed to travel overseas, unless under special exemptions for limited business travel. Referring to this, Birmingham added that the government is looking to ease entry rules for returning citizens, students and other long-term visitors.
He emphasized that as of now, they can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well till now in terms of returning Australians to this country safely.
The return of international students will be a boost for universities facing big financial losses with the border closed as international education is Australia’s fourth-largest foreign exchange earner, worth A$38 billion ($26.14 billion) a year.
Australia has had more than 7,300 cases of the coronavirus and 102 people have died from COVID-19, the disease it causes.
It recorded its biggest daily rise in new infections in more than a month on Wednesday, with the most of them in Victoria, the second most populous state.
Victoria reported 21 new cases overnight, of which 15 are returned travelers in quarantine, taking the total tally for the day to 22 cases, with some states yet to report their data.