Politics

Queensland State Border Reopens After Months of COVID-19 Restrictions



Queensland Monday opened its state borders to Australia’s COVID-19 hot spots. Stranded residents and tourists from Australia’s two most populous states — New South Wales and Victoria — are being allowed to enter after being locked out of Queensland for more than five months.

Queensland’s reopening came after the northeastern Australian state passed a significant public health milestone. More than 80% of its eligible population has been fully vaccinated, triggering a relaxation of travel restrictions.

Tens of thousands of vehicles are expected to cross the state border with neighboring New South Wales on Monday. Only travelers who have received two doses of vaccine and present a negative COVID-19 test will be allowed in.

Among those crossing into Queensland was resident Kennedy Smalley. He told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that he was desperate to be reunited with his family.

“Going home to see my kids. Yeah, got stuck on this side of the border and been waiting this whole time to see them. So, it will be nice to be home. Roughly eight months. Come over here in March to get a job, but it kind of fell through. Stuck around to try and find another one and then when I managed to try to make my way home, I got stuck on this side. It is more or less a surprise. So, yeah, it will be good to see them and (I) can’t wait,” Smalley said.

The federal government has been highly critical of a series of border closures by Australia’s states and territories that were imposed to curb the spread of the virus. Ministers have insisted the measures were heavy-handed and have harmed the economy.

Australia closed its international borders to most foreign nationals in March 2020.

Those restrictions are expected to start to ease Wednesday, when skilled migrants, international students and backpackers are scheduled to be allowed to return if they are fully vaccinated.

Many businesses in Australia have complained of severe staff shortages. Tourism companies fear they will lose valuable summer trade because they do not have enough workers because migrants have been shut out of the country.

Australia has had 230,000 diagnosed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. 2,100 people have died.

Almost 90% of eligible Australians have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Australia is relaxing travel restrictions for travelers despite rising infections and concerns about the effectiveness of vaccines against the omicron variant.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.