Australia has officially extended its international travel ban for three more months. Canberra announced on Tuesday that it is extending the travel ban until June 17, 2021.
The initial ban was set to expire on March 17. However, the government said the rest of the world “continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk” to its borders, Australia’s 7 News reported.
“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 unless they are granted an exemption.
It also means those hoping to enter Australia will have longer to wait as numbers are limited to the capacity of mandatory quarantine hotels. Inbound flights are also extremely expensive and get cancelled often.
Around 39,000 Australian citizens 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, noting that enforced hotel quarantine is Australia’s first line of defence and remains vitally necessary.
The health minister added a note of optimism, saying that the new measure can be updated or amended at any time, meaning if the situation improves in other countries, Australia still has the option of bringing forward its reopening date.