Reputable international press such as The Times is now jumping on the bandwagon to call out Australia for it’s draconian border closure and lockdown policies, calling the country a Covid Prison.
These policies have impacted business and personal relationships as well as tens of thousands of Australian citizens stranded abroad, unable to return due to specific return quotas and quarantine camps.
In the past Australia was a popular travel destinations and Australians loved to travel abroad as well but since Covid emerged and lockdowns as well as their border closure started airlines such as Qantas and Virgin Australia are dead in the water.
While ordinary Australians aren’t allowed to leave the country, sometimes even their city at all there have been special arrangements for a range of celebrities who were able to enter/leave the country.
During the first wave of the pandemic which wreaked havoc in Europe and North America Australian politicians and their media were trying to lecture other countries how to handle the crisis. From the comfort of an island nation at the end of the world which has simply locked out hundreds of thousands of citizens.
As time went by this moral high ground quickly evaporated especially once the Delta variant arrived in Australia and while other countries are already 70%+ vaccinated the government down under has bungled the entire effort to that regard (just 37% of Australians are fully vaccinated right now).
For a while it seemed the media would let it all slide but the patience has run out with both publishers and citizens as well as the business community who are now venting their frustrations.
The Times just published an article today titled Covid Prison: How Australia lost it’s freedom (access here) an it’s lining up among other reputable international publications that find tough words for the tactics used.
… After a year celebrating pandemic death rates that were infinitesimal compared with those in the UK and the US, and lecturing the world on the superiority of its Covid-19 elimination strategy, Australia’s success was shattered by the mid-June arrival of the Delta variant. It snuck in with an American flight crew …
As they watched those in the UK flock to weddings and festivals last weekend, the 5.3 million residents of greater Sydney entered their tenth consecutive week of lockdown, unable to stray further than 5km from their house for outdoor recreation, as new daily Delta cases on Monday hit a fresh record of almost 1300 in New South Wales. …
… a growing number of A-list celebrities have come and gone under special arrangements, including Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Zac Efron, Mark Wahlberg and Ed Sheeran.
Their treatment has riled those stuck offshore, as well as many who are technically locked onshore; one of the more draconian measures imposed by Fortress Australia is that government permission is required to leave the country …
Even those Australians who have managed to return home after years away are stung by the hostility they encounter, especially when they question the hermit kingdom that Australia has become. …
It must be truly horrible to be in a situation where the government actually tells you where you’re allowed to go and if you can actually leave the country. While there are some form or the other of local Covid related local restrictions exist in most parts of the world, such draconian measures as we see in Australia are only implemented in China. Not the most democratic country by any scale.
There were other articles handling the matter in recent weeks:
Such headlines alone are an embarrassment for any country that calls itself a democracy.
As John wrote yesterday Australia has just extended their travel ban by another three months:
Two weeks ago I expected this and wrote a piece basically saying stop buying any tickets to Australia and New Zealand which follows similar policies because it’s just a giant hassle as the flights most likely won’t operate for a long time.
Where does this all leave us? Hard to say. At this point I think we can agree that a zero Covid policy is not realistic no matter which country tried to go with it.
Thailand had a similar idea and shut itself down to the outside world until Covid finally got into the country this spring and subsequently exploded. At some point in July they at least opened the Phuket Sandbox and Samui+ to allow vaccinated arrivals in without a hotel quarantine.
International media is starting to rip Australia for their restrictions and elimination of civil liberties yet the government just decided to lock their citizens up for another three months, meaning they can’t travel internationally.
Both Australia and New Zealand have been historically strict on protecting the country from travelers bringing any kind of prohibited food or agriculture product in when arriving internationally. Huge fines are imposed on travelers who violate this rule. Of course this won’t protect you against something like a pandemic.
Hopefully people are soon able to travel again and live their lives!