Australia’s international borders will remain shut after the Federal government extended the emergency travel ban through to mid-June.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed the human biosecurity emergency period had been extended “by an additional three months,” from March 17 to June 17 due to the “unacceptable risk” of COVID outbreaks in other countries.
The overseas travel ban was first brought in on March 17 2020 under the Biosecurity Act 2015, as the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off around the world.
It was set to expire in December but was extended for three months, and has been once again.
“The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has advised the Australian Government the COVID-19 situation overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants,” Mr Hunt said.
“The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety.”
The emergency powers can be revoked when Mr Hunt feels it is appropriate, but until then, Australians won’t be able to leave the country unless they’re granted an exemption.
International arrivals into Australia will continue to be capped and will have pre-departure testing and mandatory masks on flights.
Trading restrictions at retail outlets in airports will continue, while cruise ships still won’t be allowed to operate in Australia.
However, the Federal government admits it is looking into a “framework” that will allow the holiday vessels back into the country.
Last week, Qantas set October as its planned restart for international services.