Australian residents who have been planning to travel abroad for a long time in the hope that international borders will open soon for them, will now have to continue to wait a little longer.
The three-month extension of the human biosecurity emergency period will continue to drive away families divided by the COVID-19 border closure.
- Federal government extends closure of Australian border until December 17
- Australian citizens and permanent residents need permission to travel abroad
- Frequent travelers see the extension as a major setback for work and family reasons
Extension after extension
On September 2, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the extension of the border closure under the 2015 Biosafety Act until December 17.
“The Australian Lead Health Protection Committee (AHPPC) has indicated that the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health,” Minister Hunt said in a press release.
The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to this risk
The emergency period has been in place since March 18, 2020 and has been extended every few months. The current expansion ends on September 17, which will be carried over by the announced expansion.
It restricts overseas travel for Australian citizens and permanent residents, restricts the entry of cruise ships into Australia, and imposes trade restrictions at retail outlets at international airports.
Currently, Australian citizens and permanent residents can only leave the country under certain conditions that require government permission.
Setback for frequent travelers
For those who have frequently used international travel to run their businesses, the successively prolonged border closures have been a drag.
Melbourne-based businessman Ashish Vohra believes the government’s move is a “major setback” for those like him.
The government should not have extended the travel ban, especially when the vaccination rate is steadily increasing
Mr Vohra is said to be traveling abroad every three months for his businesses before the pandemic.
“Instead, they could have announced measures like allowing travel for people who have been fully vaccinated in Australia or some sort of home quarantine,” he told SBS Hindi, adding that his company had taken a hard blow over the past two years due to these travel restrictions.
Besides the financial loss, people like Mr. Vohra have also suffered on the emotional and family fronts.
The Vohra family were heartbroken earlier this year when they were unable to travel to India to mourn the loss of a family member.
The world opens up, Australia remains closed
With the acceleration of the vaccination rate in Australia over the past month, residents have started to question the need to extend the border closure, especially when the rest of the world opens up thanks to increased vaccination. .
Countries like the US, UK, Canada, some EU member states and popular tourist destinations like the Maldives have lifted the barricades for fully vaccinated international travelers.
On September 2, New South Wales announced that 70% of its population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while Victoria is expected to reach the same figure by the end of the month.
However, Sunita Dhindsa, a member of the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT, told SBS Hindi that the government’s decision to extend the border closure was only expected given the current COVID-19 situation in Australia.
It is more important that the government continue to allow overseas travel under certain conditions, including for compassionate reasons, and also continue to bring home stranded Australians who are waiting to return.