Australia's island state reopens to mainlanders after seven-month COVID-19 closure

SYDNEY, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Australia's state of Tasmania eased restrictions on visitors from elsewhere in the country on Monday, no longer requiring them to seek special exemptions or quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Roughly seven months since the island state effectively shut its borders to guard against COVID-19, visitors will begin to return, easing pressure on the heavily tourism-geared economy.

The new rules apply to travellers from "low risk jurisdictions" which includes every Australian state as well as New Zealand, and excludes Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), which as well as being the most populous states have also recorded by far the highest virus numbers.

Interstate arrivals will be required to register in an online database and undergo virus screening including a temperature check, with those showing any symptoms required to get tested and isolate themselves until results are known.

Throughout the pandemic, Tasmania has used its natural isolation to its advantage, recording just 228 cases in total, and now going more than 70 days without a positive test.

Tasmanian Health Minister Sarah Courtney said while the news of reopening is positive, the state needed to remain on top of its virus control measures and remain vigilant.

"While it's exciting to be able to see restrictions ease and life getting to a COVID-normal, we also need to remember there is always a risk of coronavirus in our community," Courtney said.

Authorities were expected to make a call this week whether NSW will also be subject to the new rules from the planned date of November 2.

[ Editor: WPY ]