Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham said Wednesday, 17 June, that the country may keep its borders shut to international travellers until 2021. Curbs on international travel and strict social distancing measures were largely credited for Australia’s success in containing COVID-19 in its borders.
Entry rules, however, could be relaxed for students as well as long-term visitors. Birmingham said the 14-day quarantine rule for returning citizens could be applied to international students and other long-term visitors.
“We can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely,” he said in a speech to the National Press Club.
Border closures have left universities struggling with big financial losses. As international education is the country’s fourth-largest foreign exchange earner worth $26.14 billion (AUD 38 billion), the return of students is a welcome development.
Australia has recorded over 7,300 cases and 102 deaths from COVID-19. It logged its highest daily rise in over a month Wednesday, 17 June, bulk of which were from the second most populous state of Victoria.
Victoria saw 21 new cases overnight, of which 15 were returning travellers in quarantine. National total of cases yesterday was 22, although some states are yet to report their data.