Australia : Arrivals to halve due to risk of new variants
Australia will halve the number of international arrivals it accepts after Covid outbreaks put half the population in lockdown this week. The country’s strict border rules have only allowed Australians and people with exemptions to enter. From 14 July, Australia will accept just over 3,000 people a week a measure likely to last until next year.
The announcement sparked dismay among Australians who are overseas and separated from their families. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the measure would reduce pressure on the country’s quarantine system.
Mr Morrison indicated that arrival limits would not be lifted again until most Australians have been vaccinated – a goal that won’t be achieved until next year. The new rules come after outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant plunged seven cities including Sydney, Brisbane and Perth into lockdowns over the past week. The country has recorded about 250 cases, with most tied to a cluster in Sydney, its largest city
The higher infection rate of the delta variant has exposed the vulnerability of the Australian population in which, according to government data, only 8% are fully vaccinated. Morrison said a vaccine would be made available to every Australian who wanted one by the end of the year.