| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Australia tightens border to curb COVID-19 spread

Australia decided to reduce the people who will be allowed to enter the country Friday, as it struggles to curb coronavirus clusters that plunged major cities into lockdown.

With almost half of the nation’s population under stay-at-home orders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said quotas for overseas arrivals would be cut by around 50 percent to help prevent further outbreaks.

Under the current “zero Covid” strategy, just 6,000 people are allowed to enter Australia on overseas commercial flights each week and arrivals must undergo mandatory two weeks hotel quarantine.

That quota will be reduced to around 3,000 by the middle of July, Morrison indicated, although the government will at the same time step up its private repatriation flights.

Morrison revealed the decision amid growing anger over repeated snap lockdowns, the leakiness of hotel quarantine facilities and what critics have dubbed a vaccine “stroll out.”

More than 18 months into the pandemic, less than eight percent of adults have been fully inoculated.

“This is a difficult time when people are dealing with restriction,” Morrison said. “There is still quite a journey ahead of us.”

Sydney, Brisbane and Perth are currently in lockdown — a total of around 10 million people — in an effort to suppress outbreaks that delivered 27 new local cases on Thursday.

  • AFP