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Australia will reopen to foreign visa holders in a bid to revive the economy




CANBERRA / SYDNEY, Nov 22 (Reuters) – 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 boosting 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.

The rules were eased in recent weeks to allow the entry of foreign members of citizens’ families, and Morrison said this would be increased from Dec. 1 to allow the arrival of vaccinated students, business visa holders and refugees.

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“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.

Airport staff keep welcome signals as the first international passengers arrive at Sydney Airport after easing border restrictions on coronavirus (COVID-19), with fully vaccinated Australians being allowed to enter Sydney from abroad for free. seen since March 2020. in Sydney, Australia, November 1, 2021. REUTERS / Jaimi Joy

Many Australian universities have begun to rely on international students, who make up about 21% of the total enrollment, and closing borders 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 learning by 2022. read more

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.

(1 $ = 1.3824 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Renju Jose and Colin Packham; Edited by Richard Pullin

Our standards: Principles of Trust by Thomson Reuters.




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