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Australia to remain closed until next year

Strict border controls are to remain in place in Australia for another year.

Australia is to remain closed until at least 2022, according to the government.

“We won’t be seeing borders flung open at the start of next year with great ease,” Australia’s finance minister Simon Birmingham told The Australian newspaper this week.

According to Birmingham, uncertainties exist with regards the speed of the vaccine roll-out in Australia and also the extent of the vaccine’s effectiveness to different variants and its longevity.

Australia’s trade minister Dan Tehran said last week that international travel is more likely to restart with ‘bubbles’ with low risk nations such as Singapore, Japan and Vietnam rather than an overall opening up.

Travel agents in Australia have confirmed they are now working towards a mid-2022 reopening date rather than October of this year, which was previously mooted as the month when international travel would start moving again.

Australia has largely succeeded in keeping the Covid-19 pandemic under control but at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Australians who live and work overseas. The country shut its borders in March 2020, with both inbound and outbound travel strictly regulated. Most recently citizens wanting to return from India have been threatened with gaol terms. Following a backlash, the government has since announced that it is hoping to use a facility in Howard Springs, Northern Territories, to process the roughly 9,000 Australian citizens in India who have indicated to officials they would like to come home.

“Our hearts go out to India,” said immigration minister Alex Hawke. “We’ve sent one plane of supplies, we’re going to be sending more, we’re going to have to restart those repatriations, that will take some time.”

New Zealand this week cancelled its travel bubble with New South Wales due to another Covid-19 outbreak in the Australian state.

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