To reactivate economy, Australia will reopen borders for students and workers

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Australia will allow foreign visa holders, including students and skilled workers, to enter the country from early December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday (22). This is the latest step to restart international travel and reactivate the economy.

Australia closed its international border in May 2020 and allowed only a limited number of citizens and permanent residents to enter in an attempt to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The rules have been relaxed in recent weeks to allow entry for family members of foreign nationals – and Morrison said this will be expanded from Dec. 1 to allow for the arrival of vaccinated students, business visa holders and refugees.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is an important milestone on our way back,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Australia will also allow entry of vaccinated tourists from South Korea and Japan from December 1st.

The return of foreign students, who are worth around A$35 billion (about US$25 billion) a year to the Australian economy, will be a big boost for the education sector.

More than 235,000 foreigners, including about 160,000 students, had visas to Australia at the end of October, government data showed.

Many Australian universities have come to rely on foreign students, who represent around 21% of total enrollments, and the closing of the border has led higher education institutions to lay off hundreds of staff.

Many students who stayed outside Australia said they would move to alternative universities if they couldn’t begin face-to-face learning in 2022.

Relaxing border rules should also alleviate labor shortages, which threaten to impede an economic recovery.

“This will be a critical relief for companies that are struggling to find workers just to keep their doors open and for those who need highly specialized skills to unlock big projects,” said Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the industry body, the Council of business.

Border rules, fast-track roadblocks and strict social distancing rules have helped Australia keep its coronavirus numbers much lower than many other comparable countries, with around 200,000 cases and 1,948 deaths.

The majority of new infections are being reported in the state of Victoria, which registered 1,029 cases this Monday (22). New South Wales reported 180 cases. Other states and territories have few cases.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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