Border reopening heals emotional and economic damage

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The bar graph representing Australia’s international arrivals over the past four months is more than just numbers. Each jump – from just under 16,000 arrivals in October to more than 265,000 in January – represents the collapse of Fortress Australia and the end of two traumatic years for millions of Australians separated from their families by strict restrictions. at the borders.

The monthly blocks represent hundreds of thousands of delayed bear hugs at the airport: grandparents meeting their grandchildren for the first time and adult children finding familiar comfort in their parents’ arms.

Families gather at Sydney Airport after the border reopens on November 1.Credit:Jessica Hromas

More than 533,000 people have crossed the border since the Federal and NSW governments first eased restrictions and quarantine requirements in November, allowing relatives of Australians to enter the country and making it easier for expats to return Australians at home. Most of the arrivals packed their bags for a short trip, and the largest number came from Britain, followed by Singapore.

The federal government’s sudden decision to close Australia‘s border in March 2020 protected our unvaccinated population from a little-known disease that was spreading uncontrollably overseas and placing extreme pressure on the health systems of countries like Australia. Italy.

But the cost of that decision has been borne by Australians with family overseas and expats who have struggled to return home due to limited quarantine places. Through births, illnesses and deaths, the national border has remained largely closed. Families were separated.

The partial reopening of the border in November, initiating family reunions, helped heal this emotional ache. The decision to open it more widely from tomorrow to vaccinated travelers will also help to repair the economic evil.

The tourism industry has been hit hard by the shutdown.

The tourism industry has been hit hard by the shutdown. Credit:Wolter-Peeters

Border restrictions have hit the tourism industry particularly hard – the number of tourism workers has fallen by almost 25% and tourism consumption is almost half of what it was before the pandemic – but the economy in general also suffered.

In a speech this week, National Skills Commissioner Adam Boyton explained how the restrictions and the resulting “migration shock” had tightened the labor market, particularly for low-skill occupations. Between May and December last year, more than half of all employers looking to hire staff struggled to do so.

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