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Australia 'likely' to keep international border closed until next year: official

Australia 'likely' to keep international border closed until next year: official
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Australia’s borders will likely remain closed to international travelers for the rest of the year, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Wednesday.

Birmingham said the country is exploring options for relaxing entry rules for long-term visitors like students.

“We can simply work through the 14-day quarantine periods that have worked so well in terms of returning Australians to this country safely,” Birmingham said in a speech to the National Press Club, Reuters reported.

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However, Birmingham said the question of shorter-term international visitors was “much more challenging once you move beyond New Zealand."

“I hope that we can look eventually at some of those countries who have similar successes in suppressing the spread of COVID to Australia and New Zealand, and in working through that with those countries, find safe pathways to deal with essential business travel that helps to contribute to jobs across our economies,” he said. “But I do, sadly, think that in terms of open tourist-related travel in or out of Australia, that remains quite some distance off, just because of the practicalities of the volumes that are involved and the need for us to first and foremost keep putting health first.”

Asked if he believed the international border was more likely to be opened in 2021 as opposed to this year, Birmingham responded, “Honestly, I think that is more likely the case,” according to The Australian.

International education brings in the equivalent of about $26.14 billion per year for Australia, making it the nation’s fourth-largest foreign exchange earner.

Although only 102 people have died from the virus in Australia, the country recorded its largest daily rise in infections in more than a month on Wednesday, the majority concentrated in Victoria. The state saw an increase of 21 cases, 15 of them recently returned travelers who have entered quarantine. Australia in total has recorded more than 7,300 cases of the virus.