By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 20 February 2022 • 10:23
AUSTRALIA threatens backpackers with being deported after massive parties were seen on Christmas day.
On Monday Australia reopens its doors and will welcome international tourists for the first time in two years after it closed its borders in an effort to protect the country from the pandemic. The decision comes as the country is to live with the virus due to the high percentage of residents vaccinated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared at a Sunday briefing at the Melbourne International Airport that “The wait is over”.
With infections on the decline the reopening to international tourists is the clearest sign yet of the government’s shift from a strict zero-COVID approach to living with the virus and vaccinating the public to minimise deaths and severe illness.
The majority of the country’s 2.7 million COVID-19 infections have occurred since the Omicron variant emerged in late November, however deaths have been low at under 5,000 a fraction of those in other countries.
On Sunday, the country recorded more than 16,600 coronavirus cases, before all areas had reported, and at least 33 deaths, mainly in the three most populous states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The numbers however remain relatively low which coupled with one of world’s highest vaccination rates with more than 94% of people aged 16 and over are double-dosed, has prompted the government to relax the restrictions
Dubbed “fortes Australia”, the country has strict border controls that may limit the recovery of their tourism sector. The government hopes to boost a pre-pandemic growth sector, real tourism gross domestic product expanded 3.4% in 2018-2019, compared with overall GDP growth of 1.9%.
Australians have been permitted to travel since November, and since that date allowance has been made for some workers and students. But from Monday, leisure travellers and more business travellers may enter.
Steve Hughes, Head of HSBC’s commercial banking in Australia said: “The reopening reinforces Australia’s credentials as an open economy and will allow companies with international interests to more easily conduct business.
“We expect that mid-sized firms which have reached the limits of their domestic growth will have renewed confidence to consider offshore expansion.”
As Australia reopens to international travellers, some restrictions still apply with fully vaccinated tourists not needing to quarantine, but those who have yet to be vaccinated or have not been double-dosed will require a travel exemption to enter the country. Although the doors will be open to them they will be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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