‘Danger zone’: Australians hit with European travel restrictions
Australians wanting to travel to Europe may need to rethink their plans, with the country declared a “Covid danger zone” due to surging Omicron case numbers.
Extra restrictions will be placed on Australian travellers, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not.
The directive comes after the US Centre for Disease Control warned Americans to avoid travelling Down Under, declaring Australia “high risk”.
European countries have been advised to block visitors from Australia entirely, or impose tougher restrictions, including quarantine and testing requirements.
Australia continues to ban tourists from entering the country.
But for the first time since the pandemic began, Australia is on the receving end of similar bans.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the moves taken by Europe and the US were of “real concern” but were not surprising, given high case numbers across the country.
“Our infection rates are so high because there wasn’t the preparedness,” Mr Albanese said on Sunday.
“One of the reasons why the rollout of the booster is so low compared to with European countries is because the rollout of the original vaccine was so slow.”
Mr Albanese blamed the Morrison government for vaccine supplies and public health messaging.
After Australia experienced its deadliest week of the pandemic, he accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of being “complacent”.
The European Council has listed Australia, Canada and Argentina as Covid-19 hot spots in its official directive, excluding them from the so-called EU white list.
Countries on the list, which is reviewed fortnightly, include New Zealand, Colombia, Indonesia, Rwanda, Bahrain, Chile, Kuwait, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and China.
Cyprus, Greece and Italy will still allow Australians to continue to travel.
In a statement, the European Union said Australia was “removed from the list of countries for which EU travel restrictions should be lifted”.
“New testing and self-isolation requirements may apply, depending on which EU member state you’re travelling to, regardless of whether you’re considered fully vaccinated or not,” the statement said.
Mr Albanese said other countries can “make their own judgments” on Australia, but the nation has “been absolutely magnificent” during the pandemic.
“The high vaccination rates, once supply has been available, shows that Australians are prepared to do whatever it takes to look after each other, look after their families, neighbours, their communities and country,” he said.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher batted away questions about the border closures at a media conference on Sunday.
Mr Fletcher said what other “jurisdictions did is up to them” but the federal government would continue to focus on protecting Australians.
He reiterated how successful Australia had been compared to Europe and the US, stating the low number of deaths per capita.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention listed Australia as “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19” on Friday, warning Americans to avoid travel.
Australian data published on Friday confirmed there were 458,863 active cases of Covid-19 across the country.
Originally published as ‘Danger zone’: Australians hit with European travel restrictions
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