Australian court upholds India Covid-19 travel ban

Sydney, Australia, May 10 (EFE).- An Australian court Monday maintained an entry ban to Australia for people who have recently been to India, as a result of the recent and most severe coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Under the Biosafety Law, Canberra imposed the controversial measure — which penalizes attempts by citizens and people with residence permits to return to the country with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison — on May 3, and plans to lift it Saturday.

The government later said however that it is “unlikely” that returning travelers would be sent to prison.

On Wednesday, lawyers filed a suit against this measure on behalf of Australian Gary Newman, a septuagenarian stranded in India since March 2020, when Australia closed its borders.

In today’s hearing, Judge Thomas Thawley rejected the first part of the arguments of the lawsuit, considering the measure invalid because the government allegedly applied the “most restrictive and obstructive” method to control Covid-19.

Contrary to what Newman’s lawyers argue, the magistrate found that Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt ensured the measure was not “more restrictive or obstructive than necessary.”

Thawley also said the decision was based on the medical recommendations to stop the infections in the quarantine centers for international travelers.

The second part of the lawsuit, which is more complex and includes constitutional aspects and residential rights of citizens to return to their country, will be addressed at a later date.

Australian has already announced that it will lift the ban on Saturday and scheduled several repatriation flights from India.

Canberra justified the temporary suspension due to the large increase in Covid-19 cases in Australia among people returning from India, who account for 85 percent of those infected in mandatory quarantine centers.

Australia, which has vaccinated more than 2.7 million of its 25 million inhabitants against Covid-19 since Feb. 21, has been experiencing a practical normality for months that has only been interrupted by brief and localized confinements when new clusters have been detected.

The country, which plans to reopen its borders in 2022, has registered almost 30,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with 910 deaths, most caused by failures in quarantine center protocols in Melbourne in June 2020. EFE


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