The Australian Government has just announced it will not renew the ban on international cruise ships arriving and departing from Australian ports, when the current determination expires on April 17. The decision has been made ‘relying on medical advice’.
In March 2020, following the global spread of COVID-19, the Australian Government banned the entry of large international cruise vessels into Australia under the Biosecurity Act 2015. It has generally been acknowledged to have been highly effective in preventing and controlling the entry, emergence and spread of COVID-19 in Australian territory.
However the lifting of the ban is accompanied by a raft of other measures.
To ensure the safe return of international cruising to Australia, additional measures to reduce risk include:
* Enhanced pre-arrival reporting and identification of COVID-19 risk through more questions of passengers and improved processes.
* Amendments to the Biosecurity (Negative pratique) Instrument 2016 to ensure cruise vessels always arrive in negative pratique (that is, permission to unload passengers and cargo).
* Stress testing of the emergency response system in relation to cruises.
* Engaging with the cruise industry on safe resumption.
* Passengers will be required to be double vaccinated.
We are told National Cabinet has confirmed the positive progress by the eastern states and the cruise industry to develop appropriate health protocols and common guidelines to support a safe return to cruising.
International cruise ships will still need to meet all state and territory public health requirements of the jurisdiction into which they berth. State and territories will advise their readiness to receive cruise ships.
So we now await advice from the State McGowan Government on the approach it will take.
Cruise industry mandates – including requiring passengers be vaccinated, implementation of appropriate operating and outbreak management plans, and COVID-19 safety plans – will also help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission aboard cruise ships.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the decision allow the ban to lapse is based on medical advice.
“On the basis of medical advice and with the agreement of National Cabinet, lifting the cruise ban is consistent with the reopening of Australia’s international border and shows that we have successfully navigated Australia’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Hunt said.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said the Australian Border Force stands ready to welcome international cruise ship passengers and crew back to Australia.
“In 2019, before the pandemic, Australia welcomed more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers across the border from almost 350 vessels,” Minister Andrews said.
“The cruise ship industry plays an important role in our tourism sector and forms part of the Morrison Government’s plan to bolster our economic growth as we recover from the pandemic.
“I can’t wait to see our cruise terminals once again filled with arriving international passengers, getting this important industry ship-shape and back out on the water once more.”
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, said the resumption of cruising in Australia was an important milestone in the Government’s COVID-19 response.
“This is great news for the cruise industry, tourism, the broader economy and the Australians who love to take a cruise holiday,” Minister Tehan said.
“The resumption of cruising is another key step forward in the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19.
“We look forward to welcoming cruise ships and passengers back to Australian waters.”
More than 94 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 12 million Australians have had a booster vaccination.
We expect, generally speaking, Freo people will be pleased to see the return of cruise ships before long.
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