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On May 7, Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan stated that the country may not fully reopen its borders for international tourists until second half of 2022.
The news has come as a blow to the international airlines and tourism industry.
Stating that the closure is longer-than-anticipated, Tehan gave a slight ray of hope stating that things can change through the pandemic.
The news comes as some countries struggle with fresh outbreaks, new mutant strains and increased uncertainties about border re-openings.
The move has been implemented to secure it's citizens from these uncertainties that exist not just due to speed of vaccine rollouts, but also because of the extent of their effectiveness on different variants of COVID-19.
Last month, Australia had suspended all direct passenger flights to India due to the severe second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had announced the decision on April 27, adding that the ban will be reassessed on May 15.
A number of countries including the Maldives, Germany, Italy, the UK and Bangladesh have, in the past week, introduced travel restrictions of different kinds on arrivals from India.
Australia has closed its doors to most countries around the world. And it requires a two-week mandatory hotel quarantine for those who are allowed in.
Last month, the country had entered into a quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand. However, on May 6, New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that flights from Sydney would be temporarily suspended for 48 hours after emergence of new coronavirus cases.
Hipkins said health officials needed more time to evaluate the situation in Australia. However, he said that travel from New Zealand to Australia would still be allowed.
New Zealand and Australia aren't the only countries exploring travel bubbles right now. Later this month, Hong Kong and Singapore plan on achieving a quarantine-free travel bubble in a similar arrangement.
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