Australian court rejects bid to overturn outbound travel ban

Sydney, Australia, Jun 1 (EFE).- The Federal Court of Australia on Tuesday rejected a bid to overturn a March 2020 government order that prohibits people leaving the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the 2015 Biosafety Act, the government prohibited any citizen or permanent resident from leaving Australia, and suspended international air routes, with exceptions on humanitarian grounds or for foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest and workers with critical skills.

LibertyWorks, a think tank that challenged the outbound travel ban in court, denounced the measure issued by Health Minister Greg Hunt, considering it “invalid by reason of inconsistency with, or of lacking authority in, the [Act]” and that it was studied by the court on May 6, according to the ruling published Tuesday on the court’s website.

The judges dismissed the lawsuit, assessing that the minister “is entitled to impose any requirement he is satisfied is necessary, amongst other things, to prevent or control the entry of COVID-19 into Australian territory or the spread of the disease in Australia or elsewhere.”

The three magistrates also indicated in their ruling that if the demand to lift the travel restriction is admitted, it could mean, for example, adopting complicated steps such as “making a human biosecurity control order on every single individual who wishes to do so and then only for no more than 28 days.”

This ruling comes after the court declined a bid to overturn last month’s temporary entry ban on citizens who had been in India during its ongoing virus outbreak, also relying on the aforementioned Biosafety Law.

Australian authorities, which plan to reopen the borders in June 2022 once the vaccination campaign for its 25 million population is complete, has issued some 140,000 outbound travel exemptions to residents and citizens of the country since March 2020.

Australia, which has managed Covid-19 well, has recorded more than 30,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, including 910 deaths.

The Oceanian country, which has vaccinated more than 4 million people with the first dose and around half a million with two, has been living normally for months, only broken with brief and localized lockdowns, such as that currently registere in Victoria state, which has found more than 50 local infections in a week. EFE


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