Australia is considering opening its borders to Asian countries, including parts of China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as the country seeks to revive its economy damaged by COVID-19.
The consideration of easing travel curbs comes as Morrison said Australia has gone three days without any locally transmitted cases of covid-19.
In March, Australia shut it borders to all non-citizens and permanent residents. 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.
However, United States and Europe are barred from entry as the coronavirus cases surges in these countries. But Australia may allow people from low-risk countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and even provinces in China. China was one of the first countries from which Australia restricted entry.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the government is looking at alternative arrangements to channel visitors through appropriate quarantine arrangements for low-risk countries.
Reviving tourism would be much-needed boost to Australia’s economy, which shrank seven percent in the three months that ended in June.
According to Australia’s government data, tourism in 2019 accounted for 3.1 percent of country’s gross domestic product , contributing almost A $61 billion( $44.4 billion) to the economy .
Unemployment rose up to 6.9 percent in September, official data showed.
Morrison said Australia would extend higher unemployment benefits until the end of March, though at a reduced rate.
Currently unemployed receive A$815 every two weeks, but this will fall to A$715 at the end of December.