The federal government has extended the ban on international travel for Australians by a further three months due to concerns over the control of COVID-19 variants overseas.
The human biosecurity emergency period, which has been in place since 17 March 2020, will now continue until 17 June 2021.
It extends emergency determinations such as pre-departure testing and mask-wearing for international flights, restrictions on the entry of cruise vessels within Australian territory, restrictions on outbound international travel for Australians, and restrictions on trade of retail outlets at international airports.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly advised that the COVID-19 situation overseas “continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants”.
“The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety,” Minister Hunt said.
The Cruise Lines International Association said it would continue to advocate strongly for a phased and controlled return to domestic cruising following the government’s decision to continue its year-long biosecurity ban.
CLIA’s managing director for Australasia, Joel Katz, said the industry had been working with the government on a framework for the resumption of cruising for more than six months.
“Australia has done a remarkable job in managing COVID-19, and we respect the government’s decision to extend the biosecurity determination affecting the border and international travel,” said Joel Katz, managing director for Australasia at CLIA.
“However, we believe there is a pathway for the phased and tightly controlled return of domestic cruising for the benefit of those regional communities and industries that rely on a healthy cruise sector.
“We have been working closely with the federal government for more than six months now on a high-level framework for the re-start of domestic operations.
“We are naturally disappointed that the government has extended the ban without finalising a pathway for the return of cruising given the work that has taken place over many months, but we remain committed to working with agencies at a federal and state level.”
Katz said cruise lines globally had committed to extensive new health protocols, including 100 per cent testing of all passengers and crew before boarding.
According to CLIA, $5 billion had been lost to the Australian economy over the past 12 months since the industry stopped operations in March last year.
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