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Coronavirus in Australia - Australians in India are not allowed to go home: "A radical measure"

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Australians and people with a permanent Australian residence permit who are currently in India are no longer allowed to enter Australia as of today. Anyone who disregards this ban will be punished with up to five years in prison and the equivalent of around 47,000 Swiss francs. The journalist Julika Jungehülsing explains what that means.

Julika Jungehülsing

Freelance journalist in Australia

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The German journalist from Kiel has lived in Australia since 2001. Her reports from Australia and countries in the South Pacific appear in many German-language publications.

SRF News: How does the Australian government justify the drastic approach? Australia got through the pandemic comparably well.

Julika Jungehülsin: Compared to Europe, Australia is really a kind of parallel universe. There have been a total of almost 23,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic. 910 people have died in connection with Covid. There are only a dozen new cases a day. The government cites medical reasons why these compatriots are no longer allowed to enter. They do not want to import the pandemic from India and currently more than half of the returnees from India are currently testing positive. The quarantine facilities are not set up for this.

Extreme measures always run the risk of not having been weighed up enough and of not being able to withstand subsequent legal scrutiny.

Can a country lock out its own citizens, is that legal?

There are many lawyers who say it is not legal and it is obviously a radical measure. Extreme measures always run the risk of not having been weighed up enough and of not being able to withstand subsequent legal scrutiny. If, for example, it is proven that the country would get along well with those who had returned, even if they were infected, then this could result in the measure being declared legally illegitimate.

How do Australians in the country find this law?

The people are horrified and many human rights activists and, as mentioned, above all lawyers say that cannot be justified at all. On the other hand, many have also been familiar with this relatively rigid policy for a year and in this respect they agree with this policy.

How is the government reacting to this criticism?

She says it's just what she has to do. When you travel back from abroad, you have to move into a hotel for two weeks and in this hotel you get food in front of the door and you are not allowed to go out until the time is up. Many people have to pay for this quarantine themselves.

It often happens that employees who have worked in quarantine hotels have carried the virus into the population.

This type of quarantine is controversial because it is hotels. Hotels are not hospitals that have medical quarantine facilities. It often happens that employees who worked there carried the virus into the population.

How are these people from Australia who are currently in India?

I think they are very different groups. Maybe they have relatives in India or someone died and they had to go to the funeral. It's relatively dramatic for them, they have their lives and their jobs here. These are not people who normally live in India, but in Australia.

In mid-May, Australia wants to decide what to do with the people who are stuck in India. How great is the pressure to let them back into the country?

I think the pressure is great. There is hardly a radio program or TV program that does not deal with this topic: whether it is legal and whether the government has gone too far. There is a large Indian community in Australia and it is also putting pressure on it. In this respect, I could imagine that something will happen again before May 15th.

The interview was conducted by Claudia Weber.

SRF 4 News, May 3, 2021; 7:20 am; srf / lin; harm

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  • Comment from Andrea Esslinger (thinking further)
    Australia is guaranteed to have dozens of empty hotels. No problem in quarantining and testing returnees. Just as it happens in Thailand.
    The excesses of this pandemic must also lure the last political grouch from behind the sofa. Do not let your own citizens into the country anymore! Don't let families celebrate Christmas together anymore. What is happening right now?
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Werner Vetterli (KlingWe)
    A government protects its population and a proclamation is made in Switzerland.
    Everyone who went abroad voluntarily had accommodation and can protect themselves there.
    If a state starts repatriation campaigns, then its citizens would also have to be put into compulsory quarantine.
    And 100% of this, Switzerland did the first, only the second step that failed miserably. Why? I insist on my rights ...
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Karl Kirchhoff (Charly)
    @ Rage. You ask me what am I wrong with the actions of the Australian government? That this government does not give any support to around 40,000 of its citizens stranded around the world and leaves them to their own devices, but takes around 400 million Aus $ in hand to bring large film productions into the country during this Corona time!
    Agree agree to the comment

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