Ban on overseas travel, cruise ships extended for further three months

Ban on overseas travel, cruise ships extended for further three months

.Most Australians will remain banned from international travel until at least September 2021, following an extension of the 'biosecurity emergency period' that enables the Federal Government to place restrictions on overseas travel.

The human biosecurity emergency period in Australia has been in place since March 18 last year, and was extended by the Governor General today until September 17 , 2021

The emergency declaration, made under the Biosecurity Act, gives the Commonwealth powers to take any necessary measures to prevent and control COVID-19.

Those measures include restrictions on leaving Australia, a ban on cruise ships entering Australian territory, and mandatory pre-departure testing and mask-wearing for international flights.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a media release the extension was informed by specialist medical advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

This will mark 18 months since the country's borders were slammed shut in the face of COVID-19, and still falls several months short of the government's proposed December 2021 timeframe for the majority of Australians to be vaccinated.

A statement issued by Hunt's office said the extension "was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer."

"The AHPPC has advised that the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health. The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk."

The measure includes

  • mandatory 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

Exceptions will continue to be made for country-specific 'travel bubbles' such as the one already in place with New Zealand.

The Pacific Islands, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan have also been tipped for future bubbles but progress on those front continues to falter due to ongoing outbreaks, especially those driven by the more contagious Alpha and Delta variants of COVID-19.

Many countries are now moving towards so-called 'vaccination passports' to allow fully-vaccinated travellers to fly in and out without undergoing mandatory quarantine.

The government will continue to review the measures, she said, and they can be changed or repealed at any time subject to health advice