Since the start of the pandemic, Australia’s international borders have been closed. With the country remaining on lockdown, citizens and residents have seen record low positive Covid-19 cases and deaths compared to other countries.
In December 2020, Australia and New Zealand were able to host outdoor festivals, after only having 1 to 11 cases per day in November, and even recording days with no COVID-19 cases in November or December. Everything Australia implemented was proven to have worked for the nation.
However, recently, Australia decided to double down on its travel ban and not lift the ban until 2022.
Simon Birmingham, Australia’s finance minister, updated the public on the reopening of its borders, stating that not only will Australia keep borders closed until 2022, but the borders will also remain closed until the end of 2022 at the earliest.
“We recognize that if Australians want to be kept safe and secure, and given uncertainties that exist not just in the speed of the vaccine rollout but also the extent of its effectiveness to different variants of COVID-19, the duration of its longevity and effectiveness, these are all considerations that mean we won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking to make a plan to allow fully vaccinated Australians to travel overseas and possibly avoid the mandatory quarantine on their return. Morrison has reached out to medical experts to determine how this could be done safely without negatively contributing to a rise in cases in the country.
This week, Australia received its first flight from India. Upon landing, passengers were immediately taken to quarantine facilities. Many Australian residents were unable to board the Qantas Airline flight from New Delhi, after testing positive for Covid-19 before departure. This was the first of many flights between India and Australia. The next departure from India is scheduled for May 23, after arriving passengers quarantine for two weeks at a camp facility.
The travel ban has put a sour taste in the country’s large Indian community. Many have expressed feelings of racism, colorism, and oppression due to the ban that has left them unable to return to Australia for over a year.