Australian PM Scott Morrison calls border relaxation ‘major milestone on our way back’
Australia will allow foreign visa holders to enter the country from the beginning of December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday as it takes further steps to reintroduce international travel and support the economy.
Australia closed its international border in May 2020 and allowed only a limited number of citizens and permanent residents to enter to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Rules have been relaxed in recent weeks to allow citizens to enter foreign family members, and Morrison said it would be extended from 1 December to allow vaccinated students, business visa holders and refugees to come.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our return journey,” Morrison told reporters in the capital, Canberra.
Australia will also allow vaccinated tourists from South Korea and Japan from December 1, he said.
The return of international students worth about A 35 35 billion ($ 25 billion) a year to the Australian economy will be a significant impetus for the education sector.
Many Australian universities have come to rely on international students and many higher education facilities have laid off hundreds of workers as a result of border closures.
A group of international students arrived in Australia from Singapore on Sunday after the travel bubble between the two countries became effective.
Border rules, rapid lockdowns and strict social distance rules have helped keep Australia’s coronavirus numbers much lower than other countries, with nearly 200,000 cases and 1,948 deaths.
The state of Victoria has the highest number of new infections, with 1,029 cases reported on Monday. New South Wales, Sydney home, reported 180 cases. Other states and territories have COVID-free or very few cases.