Australian citizens and permanent residents will have been barred from leaving for almost nine months by the end of the year
A ban on Australians leaving their home country of Australia because of the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended further until mid-December.
The “Human Biosecurity Emergency Period” has been set in place since March, which prevents Australian citizens or permanent residents of the country from leaving the nation’s shores, unless they have a government-granted extension, that must be approved beforehand.
People of other countries, offshore freights and boats, essential workers and government officials are currently excluded from these measures, which also prevents international cruise ships with 100 or more passengers from docking at Australia’s ports.
This comes after the health secretary has defended Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister amid concerns regarding his attitudes towards women and homosexuality, saying: “Well, he’s also an expert in trade.”
In a statement, Greg Hunt, Australia’s Health Minister, confirmed that the ban would be extended until at least the 17th of December.
“The extension of the emergency period was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC),” the statement read.
“AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk. The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.”
The Australian Government can only further extend the human biosecurity emergency declaration for three months but it is able to do this an as many times as they see necessary.
Domestic travel across the country has been encouraged by the Australian government, that hopes the some $65 billion that had been spent on overseas travel in 2019 can instead filter inwards, but the closing of state borders has even made that difficult.
Australia has battled a resurgence of COVID-19 in recent months, with the second most populous state in the country, Victoria, being the hardest hit.
That state, in which Melbourne resides, has been under a strict second state-wide lockdown since the beginning of August, which is more sweeping than the first lockdown that was issued in March.
Referring to the extension ban, one Twitter user wrote that “no other country would allow their government to get away with locking the population in for the best part of a year without any justification, update or timeline.”
This comes after the French President, Emmanuel Macron, has defended his citizens’ rights to freedom of speech. The leader’s remarks came as the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by terrorists in 2015, announced that it was republishing the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
It is an approach Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated he did not want to hold onto for much longer.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Morrison said: “Australia was not meant to be closed”.
“We need to come together and ensure that we are clear with Australians that we will seek to make Australia whole again by Christmas this year.”