Top News Australia’s international borders to remain shut until June By TTG Asia / Posted on 5 March, 2021 12:49 Australia’s federal government has extended by another three months the emergency travel ban through to mid-June, amid concerns that the pandemic continues to pose a public health threat to the country. The emergency directive, initially slated to end on March 17, 2021, has been pushed back to June 17, with federal health minister Greg Hunt saying that the move was due to the “unacceptable risk” of Covid-19 outbreaks in other countries. Qantas delays reboot of international flights to end of October The international travel ban first kicked in on March 17, 2020 under the Biosecurity Act 2015, with the initial outbreak of Covid-19. The ban was due to expire in December, but was extended for three months, and now once again. Hunt said: “The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has advised the Australian government (that) the Covid-19 situation overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants. “The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety.” During the emergency period, precaution measures that will prevail include pre-departure testing and mandatory mask-wearing on international flights, and restrictions on international travel for Australians leaving the country. Trading restrictions on retail stores at international airports will also continue, while cruise ships are banned from operating within Australian territory. However, Hunt said, the Australian government continues to work closely with relevant authorities and the cruise industry “to develop a framework for the staged resumption of cruise ships in a manner that is proportionate to the public health risk”. Meanwhile, Qantas has pushed back by four months its plans for the restart of international flights to end of October, when the country’s vaccination programme is expected to conclude.