Border closure is impediment to Australia’s economic recovery – Business leaders

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A Qantas airplane takes off from Sydney Airport, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. Virgin Australia airline announced Wednesday it would temporarily suspend all international flights as well as 50 percent of domestic services, in another blow to the industry by COVID-19. Australia's national carrier Qantas on Tuesday cancelled 90 percent of its international flights as well as 60 percent of its domestic capacity. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
A Qantas airplane takes off from Sydney Airport, in Sydney, Australia, March 18, 2020. Virgin Australia airline announced Wednesday it would temporarily suspend all international flights as well as 50 percent of domestic services, in another blow to the industry by COVID-19. Australia's national carrier Qantas on Tuesday cancelled 90 percent of its international flights as well as 60 percent of its domestic capacity. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

Australia’s biggest business lobby groups have called for the nation’s international borders to be re-opened to aid the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, local media reported Thursday.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA), Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Australian Industry (AI) Group on warned that strict restrictions preventing arrivals to and departures from Australia were hampering business activity and jobs growth.

“Opening our international borders is a critically important step in economic recovery for a trading nation like Australia,” James Pearson, the chief executive of the ACCI, told Nine Entertainment newspapers.

“Our domestic markets, disrupted by restrictions on the movement of people and goods and gatherings of people, will not be able to sustain high employment and living standards by themselves.”

“We urge the government to provide assurance that the conditions under which borders will reopen are better known so that business can have more certainty.”

Only about 4,000 citizens are allowed to enter Australia per week until at least Oct. 24 while Australians must receive an exemption from the government’s travel ban to leave the country.

The government has previously indicated that Australia’s borders will likely remain closed to international travellers until June 2021.

The business leaders have called for a clear plan on how and when the borders will be opened in a safe and controlled way.

“The ban on Australians travelling overseas may have made sense as an early emergency measure but it is today a barrier to business that can be easily and safely removed,” AI Group chief executive Innes Willox said.

“Safely loosening outbound business travel restrictions would be a good start to getting business going again.

“At the very least, the government should signal a firm date on which such outbound travel restrictions will be reviewed and lifted.”

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