Australia is officially extending its international travel ban for three more months.
Australia's government announced Tuesday that it is extending the travel ban through June 17, 2021. The initial ban had been set to expire on March 17, however, the government noted fear that the rest of the world "continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk" to its borders, Australia's 7 News reported.
"The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has advised the Australian Government the COVID-19 situation overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants," Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. "The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone's health and safety."
The ban means most Australians will have to remain in the nation through at least June unless they are granted an exemption. International trade will also remain heavily regulated, Simple Flying reported. It also means those hoping to enter Australia will have to wait a little longer, as flights can be astronomically expensive and get canceled often, even with quarantine measures in place. That number includes some 39,000 Australian citizens who are currently registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return home but remain stuck abroad due to the regulations.
"We do need to bring Australians back home, we're seeing Australians that are coming home and they're pretty scared about what's happening over there," Australian Medical Association vice president Chris Moy told ABC. "But the flip side [hotel quarantine] is our first line of defense, and we really do need to do absolutely everything that we can do."
The good news? Hunt added that the new measure can be updated or amended any time, meaning if the situation improves the country still has the option to move up its reopening date.
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