Asian travellers may soon be welcome back in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.
At the start of the pandemic, Canberra closed Australia’s external borders, barring entry to all foreigners and permanent residents. Australian citizens were not allowed to leave the country without special permission and only allowed to return in limited numbers in order to accommodate quarantine requirements.
Now the government is looking to revive its economy, battered by Covid-19.
The plan to ease travel restrictions comes as Morrison announced Australia has gone three days without any locally acquired cases of Covid-19. All recent cases have been in quarantined locals who have recently returned from overseas, Reuters reports.
Morrison ruled out entry from high-risk areas like the US and Europe, but said the country may allow travellers from low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and even some provinces in China.
“We are looking at what alternative arrangements could be had to channel visitors through appropriate quarantine arrangements for low-risk countries,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Tourism in 2019 accounted for just over 3% of the country’s gross domestic product and reviving it would give a much-needed boost to Australia’s economy, which shrank 7% in the three months ending in June, the biggest drop since records began in 1959.
Interstate domestic travel is limited, although those restrictions are scheduled to be removed by the end of the year.