Australia’s universities are urging that new travel requirements for people arriving from China be short-lived.
From Thursday, travellers coming into Australia from China, Hong Kong or Macau will need to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson urged Chinese students to “hold with us a little bit longer”.
“What’s really important here is this is not an impediment to Chinese students returning to Australia,” she told ABC TV.
“Many of them will be able to return pretty much now if they just have that test.”
She said it was important the government do everything it can to prop up the $40 billion strong sector and bring international education back to pre-COVID levels.
“We hope this is a short-lived, temporary measure,” she said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said mandatory testing wouldn’t be a setback to Chinese people travelling to Australia.
“They know only too well and have lived with this one-in-100-year event, and this virus and all of variants and sub-variants, at a tempo and to a degree unlike any other country in the world,” he said.
“So I don’t think a test is going to be a barrier to them travelling.”
He also defended the federal health minister’s move to impose the restrictions after the chief medical officer Paul Kelly said they weren’t necessary.
“(The chief medical officer) is not a sworn minister. He’s not there to be accountable, ultimately. He’s there to provide advice,” he said.
“Sometimes the government of the day will agree with that and sometimes they won’t. That’s why you have elections.”
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the state was seeing a boost from international arrivals with borders reopening.
“What’s pleasing to me is seeing international students come back,” he said.
“This was an area which really affected the NSW economy. It’s our largest service export.
“As borders open, confidence returns, I expect more people to come back into the country. It’s a really positive thing.”
(Australian Associated Press)