COVID-19: Australia likely to keep borders closed until 2021, says trade minister

COVID-19: Australia likely to keep borders closed until 2021, says trade minister

FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney
FILE PHOTO: Police officers patrol near the Sydney Opera House following the implementation of stricter social distancing and self-isolation rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease in Sydney, Australia, on Apr 6, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott)

SYDNEY: Australia is unlikely to reopen its border to international travellers until next year but will look to relax entry rules for students and other long-term visitors, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said on Wednesday (Jun 17).

Australia has been largely successful in containing the spread of the coronavirus, which it attributes to curbs on international travel and tough social distancing rules.

Birmingham said a quarantine rule for returning citizens could be applied to international students and other visitors who plan to stay for a long period of time.

READ: Australia's most populous state doubles public transport capacity as coronavirus curbs ease

"We can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely," Birmingham said in a speech to the National Press Club.

The return of international students will be a boost for universities facing big financial losses with the border closed as international education is Australia's fourth-largest foreign exchange earner, worth A$38 billion (US$26.14 billion) a year.

READ: Australia says COVID-19 prompts greater effort to revamp global bodies

Australia has seen more than 7,300 cases of the coronavirus and 102 people have died from COVID-19.

It recorded its biggest daily rise in new infections in more than a month on Wednesday, with the most of them in Victoria, the second most populous state.

Victoria reported 21 new cases overnight, of which 15 were returning travellers in quarantine, taking the total tally for the day to 22 cases, with some states yet to report their data. 

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Source: Reuters/aj/mi

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