Australian Home Minister Karen Andrews says the government has been “very focused on doing all we can to open our international borders as safely but quickly as we possibly can do.”
Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning, Ms Andrews said last night the National Security Committee of Cabinet decided to pause the reopening of our international borders.
“This wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly. We relied very heavily on the advice from Professor Kelly in terms of the period of time that we would need to pause the reopening,” said Ms Andrews.
“So what that means is that international arrivals who are in the cohorts of economic cohorts, including skilled workers, international students, humanitarian and refugee visa-holders will now be- their delay will be for a period of 14 days to the 15 December when they can enter our country.”
The Australian government has paused the planned easing of border restrictions for eligible visa holders, including international students, while awaiting further information on COVID-19’s Omicron.
The National Security Committee of cabinet decided to defer the plan to ease restrictions until 15 December following medical advice from the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.
The government says the temporary pause will gather more intelligence about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. Further details are awaited.
Ms Andrews said it wasn’t a decision that the Australian government took lightly.
“I do want to stress that this is a 14-day pause, and we will be working to ensure that we can open our borders as soon as we possibly can. We are acutely aware of the impact that this will have on individuals, families, and businesses here in Australia, but I do stress this is a 14-day pause,” she added.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the overwhelming view is “that whilst it’s an emerging variant, it’s a manageable variant.”
“We know that other countries are facing the same challenges and we know that the US President, President Biden, spoke and made the points about the United States looking to have a two-week period, which was exactly the advice that Professor Kelly and the Head of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Professor Murphy, gave the National Security Committee yesterday.”