Australia will keep its international borders closed for at least three to four months to protect itself from the coronavirus pandemic that continues to deepen in other parts of the world.
Border restrictions would likely be the final measure lifted and would stay in place even if other rules were eased according to Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday. Murphy told a government inquiry focusing on the Australian virus response the measures still had scope for exceptional circumstances.
”The international situation at the moment is such that any relaxation of border measures would be very risky,” Murphy said.
After reporting an infection growth rate of less than 1% for eleven consecutive days, Australia appears to be flattening the curve more successfully than its international counterparts, with case numbers once again on the rise in Italy and France, as well as in Singapore.
The government said Tuesday that lockdown measures have led to a “sustained and consolidated” slowdown in new coronavirus cases, though cautioned there will no easing of restrictions for at least three more weeks. Under the current lockdown, Australians are being urged to stay home except for essential shopping, medical appointments, school, work or exercise. In most states, gatherings are limited to two people, other than household members. Pubs, restaurants, casinos, gyms and cinemas remain closed, crippling sections of the economy.
Still, in some of the first signs of easing restrictions, Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach will reopen next week for swimming and surfing activities, after it was shut a month ago amid government frustration that people were ignoring social distancing measures.