Moscow: Australians who live overseas will now be required to provide “compelling reasons” for returning to their place of residence after visiting as the country further toughens ban on international travel over the COVID-19 threat, the ABC reported on Friday, citing yet unpublished government regulations.
The decision took many Australians by surprise, as expats fear they will not be allowed to enter their home country for a visit or, alternatively, be allowed to return to their country of residence, the news said.
Currently, Australians who can provide proof that they reside outside Australia are automatically exempted from the travel ban and can cross the border. However, under the new regulations, citizens will need to get a permission from the authorities in order to leave. At the same time, the government did not specify which reasons for leaving are considered “compelling.”
“We’ve seen too many instances where people have left the country only for in relatively short order to put their names on the request list to come back into the country,” Simon Birmingham, the country’s Finance Minister, was quoted as saying by the ABC as he clarified the need for toughening the requirements.
He noted that short-term visits put additional pressure on Australia’s healthcare system and limit the number of facilities able to accommodate the “returning Australians,” according to the report.
There are currently thousands of Australians overseas waiting in line to return to Australia due to weekly quotas as they have to go through a two-week quarantine in a special facility upon arrival.