Australia is tightening some of the world’s toughest pandemic border borders by banning non-resident citizens entering the country from leaving again to ease pressure on a quarantine system being tested by the delta variant.
One of the few countries to ban citizens from leaving when the pandemic hit, the Australian government on Thursday changed border policies to close a loophole that would allow expatriates to go home and leave the country again without an exemption from the ban. to request. Now those hoping to return to their residences abroad will have to demonstrate to the Australian Border Force Commissioner that there is a “compelling reason for leaving Australian territory”.
The change will take effect on August 11 and may require some expats planning highly anticipated home visits to reconsider their plans. It can also separate immediate families if not all members traveled to Australia at the same time.
“We’ve seen too many cases of people leaving the country only in a relatively short time to get their names on the list of requests to come back,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters in Canberra. “That just adds extra pressure and additional difficulties in managing the finite number of places that can be safely managed for returning Australians.”
Australians residing in the country are already banned from going abroad without the government’s exemptions, which can be granted for reasons such as compassionate reasons or traveling to receive emergency medical treatment that is not available in Australia.
The country’s international borders have been largely closed since early last year in an effort to stem the spread of Covid, with access largely restricted to citizens, residents and their immediate families, who then go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel. undergo. The measures, some of the strictest in the world, have effectively left thousands of Australians stranded abroad, earning the country the nickname ‘Fort Australia’.
The change comes after the government in May even temporarily banned its citizens from entering Australia if they had been to India, where the delta variant first emerged. Health Minister Greg Hunt said violations could result in a fine of A$66,600 ($51,000), five years in prison, or both.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported at the time that there were about 9,000 Australians living in India who wanted to come home when the virus resurfaced there.
The strict measures helped keep Covid at bay, with Australia effectively eradicating the virus in the southern hemisphere over the summer. But they are being tested by the highly contagious delta strain, which is fueling outbreaks from Sydney to Brisbane, now that about two-thirds of the country’s population is back in lockdown.
Australia last month cut an international arrival quota by 50% to take the pressure off the mandatory quarantine system – requiring all arrivals to spend two weeks under guard in an assigned hotel – after the variant slipped through. A New Zealand bubble that opened in April has since paused amid the spate of cases.
“It’s important that people who want to leave do so either because they are returning to another place of residence for a long time, or they have a very strong, credible reason for doing so,” Birmingham said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)