Travel ban ends as COVID-19 rules relax

A travel ban on arrivals from eight southern African countries has been lifted by the federal government.

The ban was initially imposed in November over concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the ban was no longer needed due to the spread of Omicron to other countries around the world.

“Given the global spread of Omicron, international border bans are no longer a proportionate or effective way to contain the spread of Omicron,” Professor Kelly said in a statement on Wednesday.

“At this point there are no direct flights from Southern Africa to Australia and only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, relatives and eligible visa holders can enter. Australia.”

The relaxation of the travel ban has been carried out in line with rulings in other countries such as the UK.

The countries where the travel ban has been removed are South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Eswatini.

There have been over 13,000 cases of Omicron detected worldwide, including 109 in Australia.

Omicron has forced prime ministers to keep their cool on the restrictions before Christmas, as the number of cases rises and more freedoms for the unvaccinated.

The same rules now apply to everyone in NSW even if they refuse to receive the jab, while Victoria relaxes some restrictions for the unvaccinated.

The number of cases is skyrocketing in parts of the country as border rules and quarantine requirements relax on the east coast.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison campaigned in Queensland after being classified as a casual contact at an event in Sydney on Friday.

He did not need to isolate himself and was allowed to organize a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in visiting Kirribilli House on Tuesday before flying to Brisbane.

Mr Morrison has so far returned two negative tests and is due for a third.

“I am one of the most tested prime ministers for COVID anywhere in the world and probably the most quarantined as well,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“Before coming here today, we made sure to fully follow Queensland rules.”

The state recorded six locally acquired infections on Wednesday.

This includes a man suspected of having the Omicron variant who flew from Newcastle to Brisbane and then to Townsville.

Everyone on the two flights was initially classified as close contacts to be quarantined for 14 days.

But health officials have reclassified everyone except passengers seated within two rows of the man as casual contacts who only need to self-isolate until they are negative.

From Friday, unvaccinated Queenslanders will be subject to a widespread lockdown from public life.

Meanwhile, the government predicts daily infections in New South Wales will reach as high as 25,000 by the end of January.

The state recorded 1,360 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily tally in three months.

There was also another death as quarantine rules were relaxed for some close contacts.

In the ACT, the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated close contacts of Omicron cases have been reduced from half to seven days.

The nation’s capital recorded seven new cases, while its number of confirmed infections at Omicron rose to 14.

South Australia has reported 26 new cases and Tasmania has reopened to fully vaccinated travelers from sensitive areas.

Almost 90% of Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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