Australia could keep its borders closed until the end of 2022 because the new wave of COVID-19 infections in the world destroys any hope of a short-term reopening, the Tourism Minister announced on Friday.
The increase in cases in India shows the need to maintain border restrictions to maintain the low level of spread of the virus in Australia, said Minister Dan Tehan.
Since March 20, 2020, Australia has maintained drastic border controls.
It is “very difficult to determine” when the borders can be reopened, Tehan told Sky News. “The most optimistic estimate would be in the middle or second half of next year.”
Before the pandemic, around a million travelers entered the country each month for short stays. Now, they are around 7,000.
Anyone arriving from abroad must undergo a 14-day quarantine in a hotel.
The recent opening of an air bubble with New Zealand has struggled and has been suspended among affected cities by an increase in the number of cases caused by quarantine device failures.
Australia has registered 29,886 cases of infections since the beginning of the pandemic, most of which were detected in quarantined hotels.
Vaccination starts slowly: only 2.5 million doses have been administered in a country of 25 million inhabitants. Each person needs two.
The prospect of closing borders for nearly three years will deal a severe blow to the tourism industry, which accounts for 33 billion euros ($ 40 billion) a year.
“The hope would be that we could create some more air bubbles, but we are in the midst of a pandemic,” the official said. “It will depend a lot on how the global pandemic is managed.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.