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Australia to ease border restrictions, allow fully vaccinated visa holders to enter from 1 December

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Australia will also allow tourists vaccinated from Japan and South Korea from 1 December. (Representative)

Sydney:

Australia will allow foreign visa holders to enter the country from early December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, the latest step in resuming international travel and supporting its economy.

Australia closed its international border in May 2020 and allowed only a limited number of citizens and permanent residents to enter in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Rules were eased in recent weeks to allow foreign members of citizens’ families to enter, and Morrison said this would be increased from Dec. 1 to allow vaccinated students, business visa holders and refugees to arrive.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone on our return journey,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. Australia will also allow tourists vaccinated from South Korea and Japan from December 1, he said.

The return of international students, worth about A $ 35 billion (US $ 25 billion) a year to the Australian economy, will be a major boost for the education sector.

More than 235,000 foreigners, including about 160,000 students, held visas for Australia in late October, government data showed.

Many Australian universities have begun to rely on foreign students, who make up about 21 per cent of the total enrollment, and the closure of the border has left higher education institutions laying off hundreds of staff.

Many students locked out of Australia have said they would switch to alternative universities if they were not able to start face-to-face teaching in 2022.

The easing of border rules is also expected to alleviate labor shortages, which threatens to hinder an economic recovery.

“This will be critical relief for businesses that are trying to find workers just to keep their doors open and for those who need highly specialized skills to unlock large projects,” said Jennifer Westacott, chief executive. industry body, Business Council.

Border rules, swift blockades and strict social distance rules helped Australia keep its coronavirus numbers much lower than many other comparable countries, with around 200,000 cases and 1,948 deaths.

Most of the new infections are reported in the state of Victoria, which recorded 1,029 cases on Monday. New South Wales, home of Sydney, reported 180 cases. Other states and territories are COVID free or have very few cases.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a shared source.)

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