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Australia extends international travel ban

National

Australia’s international travel ban has been extended for three months, with the coronavirus pandemic set to continue into next year.

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Cruise ships and regular international flights will remain suspended under an extension to the human biosecurity emergency period.

The rules, which came into place in mid-March, will now continue until at least December 17.

Australia’s expert medical panel – the AHPPC – recommended the federal government keep the measures in place.

“AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.”

The sale and supply of some essential goods are protected during the emergency rules, which also restrict retail at international airports.

Labor is demanding the government raise the cap on international arrivals to allow more Australians stranded overseas to return home.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally lambasted Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the 23,000 stranded Australians seeking to get home.

The number has jumped 20 per cent in the past fortnight, with 3450 of the stranded people considered medically or financially vulnerable.

“And what has the Morrison government done for these stranded Aussies? Nothing,” Keneally told parliament.

Eight weeks ago, the government imposed a weekly cap of 4000 incoming passengers.

The cap will be discussed at Friday’s national cabinet meeting of federal and state leaders.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said it was up to the states to decide on raising the intake of people in hotel quarantine.

“We obviously have to ensure that it’s done very carefully, very safely, because if it’s not managed well it can have a catastrophic impact,” he told the ABC.

Senator Keneally said the government was spending $350 million to export goods such as seafood.

“Under the Morrison government if you’re a lobster, you get a ticket on a charter flight,” she said.

“But if you’re an Aussie overseas during a pandemic you get left stranded.”

She called for the government to charter flights, ensure airlines were not gouging and put in place federally-run quarantine arrangements.

-AAP

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