The Australian government announced that it will extend restrictions imposed at its international borders for at least another three months, to protect the country from the spread of the Corona virus.
The restrictions were imposed on all foreign visitors in March, with Australians and permanent residents also being barred from leaving the country unless an exception is granted.
On the advice of the Australian Health Protection Committee, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced Thursday that the emergency period will be extended until at least December 17.
"The Australian Health Protection Committee has advised that the international and domestic situation regarding COVID-19 continues to pose an unacceptable risk to public health," Hunt said in a statement.
"The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to this danger," he added.
Opposition lawmakers criticized the hardline stance, saying the government was ignoring the situation, taking into account that 23,000 Australians were stranded abroad.
On Friday, Labor's Home Affairs spokeswoman Christina Kenelli accused the prime minister of "abandoning the citizens."
In July, the Australian government imposed a maximum of 4,000 arrivals per week in the country and the states began imposing fees on people subject to compulsory hotel quarantine for two weeks.
The number of deaths due to the Corona virus in Australia reached 737, according to figures released today, Friday. The total number of injuries reached 26 thousand and 49 cases.
On Monday morning, Australian officials extended strict lockdown measures to contain "Covid 19" in Melbourne for an additional two weeks, indicating that the number of new infections has not decreased enough to prevent its rise again.
The lockdown measures in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, that lasted 6 weeks were supposed to be lifted at the end of next week, but will now be extended until September 28, according to Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews.
Andrews said in a press conference that "if we rush to open everything, there is a high probability that we will start a third wave."
Only 63 new infections and 5 deaths were recorded in Victoria on Sunday, after the number of injuries reached more than 700 at the height of the epidemic, but health officials are adopting a cautious approach.
The city's residents' hopes of a possible return to normalcy this month, as night curfews, restrictions on visits to other homes, and travel restrictions of more than 5 kilometers will remain until at least October 26.
Announcing a road map to easing restrictions, Andrews said that rushing to take advantage of the sunny weather for a short period could cause the number of injuries to spike and spiral out of control.
The tougher restrictions in Melbourne will be eased with effect from September 13th, by delaying the night curfew by an hour to begin at nine in the evening, and increasing the time allocated for daily exercise to two hours within small "social bubbles" designated for people who live alone.
Under the government's plan, child care centers will reopen and up to five people will be allowed to congregate outside from late September, provided the infection rate remains below 50 per day.
Restrictions on residents of other parts of Victoria, including the countryside, will be eased faster, given the smaller number of infections currently in these areas.
The announcement comes a day after more than 10 anti-lockdown protesters were arrested in Melbourne during confrontations with police.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing the virus, recording about 26,000 infections and 753 deaths among its population of 25 million. Most of the cases were recorded in Melbourne during the past two months, while other regions have eased restrictions after it was able to largely contain the virus.