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More than 100,000 Australians are granted travel exemptions

More than 100,000 Australians have been allowed to leave the country since the borders were closed in March due to Covid-19.

Business travellers, students and people seeking medical treatment are among those to have obtained exemptions to the travel ban.

Roughly half those who departed up to December 31 – a total of 51,793 – were exempted because they were leaving for more than three months.

Roughly half those who departed up to December 31 were exempted because they were leaving for more than three months. Pictured: Passengers at Sydney Airport

Roughly half those who departed up to December 31 were exempted because they were leaving for more than three months. Pictured: Passengers at Sydney Airport

Roughly half those who departed up to December 31 were exempted because they were leaving for more than three months. Pictured: Passengers at Sydney Airport

Travel exemptions to leave Australia: 25 March – 31 December 2021 
Exemption category    Number 
Response to the COVID-19 outbreak   438
Critical industries and business (including business travel, FIFO workers)    8963 
Urgent medical treatment not available in Australia    882 
Travelling overseas for at least three months (including students)    51,793 
Urgent and unavoidable personal business    11,686 
Compassionate and compelling grounds (including death/serious illness of family member, travel for adoption or surrogacy)    31,091 
National interest    175 
Total    105,028 

Some 31,091 were granted an exemption for compassionate reasons and 8,963 were released for business and work trips, according to Home Affairs data provided to 9News.  

A total of 882 travellers left for medical treatment and 175 people were allowed to fly because their travel was in the national interest. 

Australians and permanent residents can apply for a travel exemption online and must do so two weeks before their flight. 

On Tuesday the federal government extended its ban on international travel by a further three months until at least June 17, citing an ‘unacceptable public health risk’. 

March 17 will mark one year since Australia slammed its borders shut due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the extension of the ‘human biosecurity emergency period’ was based on specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.

Some 31,091 were granted an exemption for compassionate reasons and 8,963 were released for business and work trips

Some 31,091 were granted an exemption for compassionate reasons and 8,963 were released for business and work trips

Some 31,091 were granted an exemption for compassionate reasons and 8,963 were released for business and work trips

‘The AHPPC has advised the Australian government the Covid-19 situation overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants,’ he said.

‘The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone’s health and safety.’

The international travel ban was due to end last December before the government extended the ban by a further three months, which was extended even further on Tuesday night.

Cruise ships are also banned from entering Australia’s shores in the wake of the Ruby Princess disaster in NSW a year ago which resulted in almost 900 infections and 28 deaths. 

Opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong called on the federal government to take responsibility for the ramifications of the 15-month border closure.

‘When Scott Morrison closed the borders he had no plan for the consequences,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘A year later, 40,000 Australians are still stranded overseas, the border closure has been extended and there’s still no plan for safe, national quarantine.’

Simon Westaway from the Australian Tourism Industry Council called on the government to provide a roadmap for reopening international borders.

‘The time is nigh to consider a targeted reopening with key and willing markets,’ he told the publication.

The border ban extension comes a week after Qantas hinted the airline could be flying travellers overseas as early as October 31.

Airline boss Alan Joyce said travel would resume to 22 of the 25 destinations, including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg, despite the super-infectious South African strain.

New York, Santiago and Osaka will remain off limits, though the airline has promised to fly holidaymakers over as soon as possible.

Australia is expected to complete its rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of October. 

Hotel quarantime for returned travellers is expected to remain in place for much of the year. Pictured is a quarantine hotel in Melbourne during the recent Australian Open

Hotel quarantime for returned travellers is expected to remain in place for much of the year. Pictured is a quarantine hotel in Melbourne during the recent Australian Open

Hotel quarantime for returned travellers is expected to remain in place for much of the year. Pictured is a quarantine hotel in Melbourne during the recent Australian Open

Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News

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