Australia extends restriction to leave country to non-residents

Sydney, Australia, Aug 6 (EFE).- Australia extended the restrictions to leave the country implemented by the pandemic to its nationals living abroad and visiting, who will now have to provide “convincing reasons” to authorities to be allowed back out.

Australia, which closed its borders in March 2020 and does not plan to open them until mid-2022, prohibits its citizens and permanent residents from traveling abroad, although until now it had an automatic exception for nationals residing in other countries.

The amendment to the Biosafety Act, presented Thursday to Parliament and due to take effect on Aug. 11, requires that a citizen living abroad “show they have compelling reasons to leave Australian territory.”

Authorities said this amendment will reduce the pressure on quarantine centers, as well as the risks of contagion of Covid-19 and help the return of residents and temporary citizens to the country, according to the document presented by Health Minister Greg Hunt.

This measure comes while some 35,000 Australians and permanent residents are registered on the official lists to return to the country, which recently limited the cap on international entries per week to 3,000.

The oceanic country – which allows travel to and from abroad with exemptions for humanitarian, business or national security reasons – obliges all people arriving from abroad to undergo two weeks of quarantine in designated centers.

With some 35,400 Covid-19 infections and 928 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has been going through a growing wave of cases linked to the delta variant of the virus since mid-June, which has its epicenter in the city of Sydney.

About 60 percent of the 25 million inhabitants of the country are currently under quarantine orders that affect, among other populations, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the three most populous Australian cities.

Australia hopes to progressively reopen its borders once it reaches 80 percent of its population vaccinated with the full dosage against Covid-19, while so far it has only managed to immunize 20 percent of the inhabitants over 16. EFE


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