Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls border relief ‘big milestone on our way back’

Australia will allow foreign visa holders to enter the country from early December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday as it takes further steps to resume international travel and support the economy.

Australia closed its international border in May 2020, allowing only a limited number of citizens and permanent residents to enter in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Rules have been relaxed in recent weeks to allow foreign relatives of citizens to enter, and Morrison said it would be scaled up from Dec. 1 to allow vaccinated students, business visa holders and refugees to arrive.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our path back,” Morrison told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

Australia will also allow vaccinated tourists from South Korea and Japan from December 1, he said.

Education sector

The return of international students, worth about $ 35 billion ($ 25 billion) a year to the Australian economy, will be a significant boost to the education sector.

Many Australian universities have relied on international students and the border closure has led many higher education facilities to lay off hundreds of staff.

A group of international students arrived in Australia from Singapore on Sunday after a travel bubble between the two countries took effect.

Border rules, rapid restrictions and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia keep its coronavirus numbers much lower than many other comparable countries, with around 200,000 cases and 1,948 deaths.

Most new infections are reported in the state of Victoria, which recorded 1,029 cases on Monday. New South Wales, home of Sydney, reported 180 cases. Other states and territories are COVID-free or have very few cases.

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