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Australia reopens borders to vaccinated travelers two years after COVID-19 – National

Australia On Monday it said it would reopen its borders to vaccinated travelers this month, ending two years of tourism misery, revitalizing migration flows and injecting billions of dollars into the economy. 13th economy in the world.

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This move effectively calls for time on the final major component of Australia’s response to COVID-19 pandemic, which is attributed to relatively low rates of death and infection. The other core strategy, the stop-start lock, was shelved in December.

In recent months, the country has taken steps to relax border controls, such as allowing skilled migrants and arranging for quarantine-free travel – the “travel bubble” – with some countries like New Zealand.

But the reopening, effective February 21, represents the first time since March 2020 that people can come to Australia from anywhere in the world as long as they are vaccinated.

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“If you’ve had your dual vaccinations, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference in Canberra.

The tourism industry, which is dependent on the domestic market which has been hit hard by movement restrictions, welcomed the decision made three months before Morrison faces an election.

Tourism Export Council Australia chief executive Peter Shelley said: “In the more than two years since the border was closed, the industry has been brought to its knees.

He added: “We can now collectively work to rebuild an industry that is in decline.

Tourism and Transport Forum executive director Margy Osmond said the industry was “delighted” at the reopening, but coordination would be needed to ensure Australia was competitive as a destination. arrive.

“It’s not as simple as just turning on the faucet and we’re seeing numbers of international tourists going back to where they were before COVID,” she told reporters.

According to government agency Tourism Research Australia, losses in domestic and international tourism since the start of the pandemic have amounted to A$101.7 billion (US$72 billion). Spending on international tourism in Australia fell from A$44.6 billion in the 2018-19 financial year to A$1.3 billion in 2020-21, TRA said.

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Shares of travel-related stocks jumped as investors welcomed the prospect of profitable growth again. Shares of the country’s main airline Qantas Airways Ltd rose 5% while shares of travel agent Flight Center Travel Group Ltd rose 8%.


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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement that the company is reviewing flight schedules to determine how soon to restart flights from more international locations.

As elsewhere in the world, COVID cases in Australia have skyrocketed in recent weeks due to an Omicron variant that health experts say can be transmitted more quickly but is less virulent than earlier strains. .

But with more than nine in 10 Australians over 16 fully vaccinated, new cases and hospital admissions appear to have slowed, authorities said.

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The country reported just over 23,000 new infections on Monday, the lowest in 2022 and far from the peak of 150,000 about a month ago.

Meanwhile, Morrison said the government would send up to 1,700 Australian Defense Force staff to fill a shortage of manpower in aged care, following complaints of staff shortages and fatigue. fatigue due to increased pressure from the pandemic.

About 2.4 million cases have been recorded in Australia since the first Omicron case was detected in Australia in November. Until then, Australia had only counted about 200,000 cases. The total death toll is 4,248 since the pandemic began.

(Reporting by Renju Jose and Jamie Freed; Writing by Byron Kaye; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Stephen Coates and Michael Perry)


https://globalnews.ca/news/8600915/australia-border-reopening-covid/ Australia reopens borders to vaccinated travelers two years after COVID-19 – National

Russell Falcon

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