Australia lately decided to allow vaccinated skilled migrants and international student’s entry from 1 December onwards. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated “that there will be a delay of a fortnight was necessary following Omicron’s discovery”.
As another dangerous Covid variant was detected in South Africa earlier this month, with initial evidence suggesting it has a higher re-infection risk. It initiated from the UK, EU and US to issue a travel ban on Southern African countries – a decision criticised by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) possessed a high risk globally of the variant, Japan announced on Monday that all foreigners would be banned from entering. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did not say how long the measures would last, and told reporters that he was ready to face criticism for being too cautious.
“These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety’s sake, until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant,” Mr Kishida said. Japan has yet to detect any cases.
So far in Australia there are five Omicron infected travelers arriving in the country – has not announced rolling back any of the restrictions it had already eased.
The country has until recently had some of the strictest border policies in the world, barring even its own people from leaving the country under a strategy sometimes dubbed “Fortress Australia”.
The measure was only eased in November this year, giving long-awaited freedoms to vaccinated citizens and their relatives. Under the current rules, permanent residents and fully vaccinated travelers from New Zealand and Singapore are allowed into Australia.
The relaxation of rules planned for 1 December would have added fully vaccinated Japanese and South Korean citizens to the list of those who could enter, as well as eligible visa holders. But Australia’s National Security Committee said the pause was necessary as it would allow them to consider issues like “the efficacy of the vaccine” and the impact of the variant.