Australians hoping to get back overseas will have to wait it out a little longer, with international borders to remain closed until at least June 2021.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed the three-month extension to border closures on Tuesday, in a devastating blow to the thousands of Australians who remain stranded overseas.
Mr Hunt said the decision to extend the ban on international trave was based on medical advice.
The situation overseas, including more transmissible variants of COVID-19, still posed an “unacceptable public health risk” to Australia, according to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.
“The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety,” Mr Hunt said.
The three-month extension applies to outbound travel, inbound cruises and pre-departure testing for anyone returning to Australia.
The extension could also be “amended or repealed” before June, if the ban is no longer necessary.
The Australian border was closed to all non-citizens and non-residents from March 20, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was followed days later by an exit ban on international departures, which prevents citizens from leaving the country without an exemption.
By June, Australia will have been closed off from the rest of the world for 15 months.
-more to come