Third day without local COVID-19 cases, Australia considers opening borders to Asia

SYDNEY (CNA) – Australia is considering opening its borders to Asian countries, including parts of China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday as Canberra seeks to revive an economy ravaged by COVID-19.

Australia in March shut its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents, though in October, Canberra allowed New Zealand residents to enter. Internal travel is limited, although those restrictions are scheduled to be removed by the end of the year.

Morrison ruled out entry from the United States or Europe, but said Australia may allow people from low-risk places such as Japan, Singapore and even provinces in China.

“We … are looking at what alternative arrangements could be had to channel visitors through appropriate quarantine arrangements for low-risk countries,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

China was one of the first countries from which Australia restricted entry.

The consideration of easing travel curbs comes as Morrison said Australia has gone three days without any locally acquired cases of COVID-19.

All cases have been detected in quarantined locals who recently returned from overseas.

Reviving tourism would be a much-needed boost to Australia’s economy, which shrank seven per cent in the three months that ended in June, the most since records began in 1959.

People walk along Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne. PHOTO: AP