Pictured: Results of Daily Mail’s recent poll
Sixty per cent of Daily Mail Australia readers agree with Scott Morrison’s decision to keep international borders closed indefinitely to stem the spread of Covid.
As the virus continues to wreak havoc on India, Europe and the United States, Australia’s Prime Minister vowed to maintain his tough stance on borders on Sunday.
Mr Morrison said Australians had come to accept local lockdowns as ‘part of living with Covid-19’ and that residents do not have ‘an appetite’ for change.
But almost 500 readers in six hours told Daily Mail otherwise, arguing that they do in fact want the Government to consider relaxing international border restrictions.
The PM argued reopening borders too soon would expose the country to another more ruthless outbreak of Covid-19, like those experienced in the UK, India and Europe.
And while there are plenty of people itching to get vaccinated in the hopes of having borders opened quicker, there appear to be more who are just as content to keep foreigners out and stay put for as long as Mr Morrison considers necessary.
‘Keeping us safe is the number one priority. And if that takes five years, then it takes five years… It’s a difficult, but correct choice,’ one reader said.
As the virus continues to wreak havoc on India, Europe and the United States, Australia’s Prime Minister (pictured) vowed to maintain his tough stance on borders
Families living between New Zealand and Australia have been reunited (pictured) but Mr Morrison has now indicated Australians will not be able to travel to other nations in the foreseeable future
Earlier on Sunday, Mr Morrison told The Sunday Telegraph Australia ‘sits here as an island that’s living like few countries in the world are at the moment’.
‘We have to be careful not to exchange that way of life for what everyone else has.’
Australians have been banned from leaving the country since March 2020 without special exemptions, and only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter under some of the strictest Covid-19 border rules in the world.
But Mr Morrison denied adopting an ‘elimination strategy’ and said suppressing the virus remained the Government’s primary focus.
‘Australia’s COVID suppression strategy has not changed to an ‘elimination’ strategy nor is ‘zero cases’ our goal,’ he clarified on Sunday.
‘There will always be cases as we return Australians home from overseas. As always, we will continue to listen to the medical advice and make decisions in the best health and economic interests of all Australians.’
Last year, the Government predicted international borders would open in October 2021 after the adult population had been offered a vaccine.
However Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the date will be pushed back to some time in 2022 amid the slow vaccine rollout and uncertainty over the Covid-19 vaccine’s ability to protect against mutating strains of the virus.
India is grappling with its deadliest outbreak of the virus with nearly 240,000 people dead.
The country has recorded more than 400,000 new cases of Covid-19 in three consecutive days and its hospitals are struggling with a shortage of oxygen supplies to treat severely infected residents who are having trouble breathing.
Scott Morrison has warned international borders will remain closed indefinitely if it means protecting Australians from a deadly outbreak of Covid-19 from overseas
Australians have enjoyed a relatively normal life in recent months when compared to other nations due to strict and swift Covid measures. Pictured: A woman enjoying a day at the beach during the pandemic
Mr Morrison said he will wait until ‘clear evidence’ proves the vaccines are effective against mutant strains before allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas again.
‘The next big step that can be taken is that Australians who are vaccinated are able to travel and return to Australia without having to hotel quarantine, and ideally we only have to engage in some sort of home quarantine of a less restrictive nature,’ he said.
Mr Morrison hopes vaccinated Australians will be exempt from any future lockdowns imposed by state governments.
The Prime Minister also admitted he could not put a timeframe on when the country would begin to accept overseas travellers again.
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Federal Government had a responsibility to bring Australians home after becoming stranded overseas because of the pandemic.
‘The Government’s got the responsibility to get vaccinations and quarantine right to make that possible,’ he told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.
Thousands of Australians have been also left stranded in India because of the border closure and threatened with jail time if they try to make their way back into Australia.
‘What we are seeing in India is incredibly distressing,’ Mr Chalmers said.
India is in the midst of a crippling Covid outbreak, recording upwards of 400,000 cases each day and resorting to mass cremations
Forty per cent of Daily Mail Australia readers urged Mr Morrison to reconsider, many arguing they want to visit relatives overseas
‘Thousands of Australians, not just abandoned there to those horrific scenes, but are threatened with jail time as well.
‘We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if the Prime Minister hadn’t comprehensively stuffed up vaccinations and quarantine.’
Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler told reporters on Sunday that the Government is taking ‘voters for mugs’ by saying Australia is at the forefront of the vaccine effort.
‘We are running at about 350,000 doses per week. At that rate it will take about two years just to vaccinate the adult population of Australia,’ Mr Butler said, according to The Australian.
‘We are so far behind in a vaccine effort we can’t even see the front of the queue.’
He also called out Mr Morrison’s changing timeframe for opening up the border, saying that plans for a national quarantine program were meant to be released mid-year.
Instead citizens are now being told they could be locked down ‘forever’.
‘We sit here as an island that’s living like few countries in the world are at the moment,’ Mr Morrison said
Sixty per cent of Daily Mail Australia readers agree with Mr Morrison’s decision to keep the borders closed indefinitely
Meanwhile Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said the ‘reality’ is that the pandemic will ‘be with us for quite some time’ and supports Mr Morrison’s hardline stance on border closures.
‘Whilst we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, we are in a good position, and we need to make sure we stay in that good position.’
Mr Merlino said international travel should remain off the cards until not only Australia successfully rolls out the vaccine but globally, too.
‘Other parts of the world are on fire right now, so the Prime Minister is absolutely correct to say that this will be with us for some time, and the border controls, which is a commonwealth responsibility, have to reflect that.’
In the interim, the state of Victoria has committed a further $260million to revive Melbourne by attracting tourists from interstate.
News of the international border remaining closed was crushing to millions of Australians unable to see family members overseas for more than a year.
New Zealand travelers embrace at Sydney International Airport. Australians can travel to New Zealand but no-where else
Australia has introduced a shaky travel bubble with New Zealand but has not made any steps toward securing travel to other nations
‘This Govt has failed miserably. All they had to do was secure and rollout the vaccines and bring Australians home. Some Aussie families are living in homeless shelters in London and other places around the world. It is a disgrace,’ one critic said.
‘I was having the vaccine so I could visit my grandchildren in Canada, now there is no point. F you Scomo.’
According to the 2016 census, half of Australians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas.
Although Mr Morrison warned he will keep the borders closed over fears of another Covid-19 outbreak, a top epidemiologist recently said it is ‘only a matter of time’ until Australia experiences a new wave.
University of Melbourne professor James McCaw predicted cases will increase as people socialise more frequently and the virus spreads undetected.
Australia’s international borders will not be ‘flung open next year,’ finance minister Simon Birmingham has said (pictured, A Covid tester at Bondi Beach)
He said eventually an outbreak will avoid the diligent work of contract tracers, and only mass vaccination would stop it.
‘We will expect incursions at least once a month and more often. And while we mix more socially, the chance of one of those taking hold goes up very quickly,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘The virus will win. But it won’t have a devastating impact if we are vaccinated.’
Professor McCaw, who is leading a research team providing expertise on the pandemic to the Federal Government, went on to state the British B117 strain of the virus has the potential to be a negative game changer in Australia.
‘That strain is more transmissible and is more severe, and the severity comes to lower age groups,’ he said.
The Federal Government aims to vaccinate 25 million people in Australia aged over 16 but just 2.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered by medical staff to date.
Supply shortages and a ‘rare but serious’ blood clot complication linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine have been significant factors.
Mr Morrison said he hoped vaccinated Australians would be exempt from any future lockdowns imposed by state governments