Australia's India policy on travel criticised, called 'racist'
Australian residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home will be banned from entering Australia. Those who disobey could face fines and jail terms, the Australian government said.
May 03, 2021 / 12:06 PM IST
On April 22 Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced India’s addition to its ‘red list’ of high-risk countries amid the surging second wave COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The restrictions included flights to and from India to Australia, even for those wanting to travel for weddings and funerals. (Image: Reuters)
From May 3, any Australian citizen who travels to their homeland from India will face fines and up to five years in prison. This move by the Australian authorities is being called 'racist' and a breach of human rights, the BBC reported.
The flights have been banned till May 15 due to the massive surge in COVID-19 cases in India .
Australian residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home will be banned from entering Australia as of May 3.
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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed accusations of racism.
"The same accusations were made against the government over a year ago when we closed the borders to mainland China," Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB.
"There's no politics or ideology in a pandemic...It's got nothing to do with politics, this is a virus," he said.
This the first time Australians have been criminalised for returning to their country, BBC reported citing local media.
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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said India arrivals had accounted for 57 percent of positive cases in quarantine, much higher than 10 percent recorded in March.
Critics, including medical experts and legal groups, told the BBC that the government's move to criminalise Indian arrivals was extreme and disproportionate to the health risks.
India has been reporting more than three lakh (300,000) new COVID-19 cases a day for around 10 days, recording the highest single-day surges in any country.