Students allowed despite Covid policy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced that Australia would refund visa fees to vaccinated tourists who arrive within the next three months.

The country, whose tight border policies in the wake of the pandemic have locked down its citizens and, more recently, one of tennis’s biggest stars, is encouraging tourists to come here.

And he is doing this because he wants to reduce the labor shortage that has been exacerbated by Covid-19.

“My message to [backpackers] “You have a visa, we want you to come to Australia and enjoy your holiday here in Australia, move around the country and at the same time join our workforce.”

The invitation extends to about 23,500 tourists who already have visas to enter Australia, as well as “anyone who applies for one and shows up within the next 12 weeks,” Morrison said via the website. television ad.

Visas that tourists usually receive, namely the subclass 417 and 462 visas, known as Working Holiday Makers visas, allow young people who are not traveling with dependent children to work and travel in Australia for up to one year.

Holders of these visas who arrived before April 19 can apply for a refund of their A$495 ($358) fees, according to the Australian Department of the Interior.

International students with visas to study in Australia can also get their A$630 ($453) visa fees refunded if they arrive within the next eight weeks, Morrison said.

Australian universities are currently on summer break and many are planning to resume classes between late February and early March.

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The move is “thank you for coming back… but we also want them to come here and be able to fill some of these critical workforce shortages, especially those who are working and being trained in health care, aged care, such sectors,” Morrison said.

He said “the crest of this omicron wave is either hitting us now or will hit us in the states over the next few weeks” and that opening borders to tourists and students will support Australia in addressing “the challenges we will face in the coming weeks.” . and months ahead.

To entice tourists and students to fast-travel to Australia, Morrison said the country is launching a $3 million marketing program through its travel agency, Tourism Australia.

Wanted: travelers who will work

A shortage of workers and supplies has forced major supermarkets in Australia to reinstate limits on the purchase of toilet paper, meat products and medicines.

Stephen Safor | AFP | Getty Images

Need for more help

Passengers from Singapore arrive in Sydney, Australia on November 21, 2021. For general tourism purposes, Australia is open to New Zealanders and vaccinated citizens, but not to other residents of Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

Bai Xuefei | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Working holidaymakers are not required to have certain skills, but they are limited types of work they can do as well as where are they from.

Passport holders from 19 countries and territories, including Canada, France, Germany, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, are eligible for a subclass 417 visa, and subclass 462 visa holders can come from 26 countries, including the United States and Singapore.

Sharp rise in cases

Over the past month, more than 80% of the total number of Covid infections in Australia have been identified.

Carla Gottgens | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hospitals in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, this week went into “Code Brown” emergency mode, a level normally reserved for natural disasters or large-scale accidents. local media. According to local reports, such a statement was made for the first time in the entire state.

This week the prime minister’s approval rating has fallen, according to Reuters, a few months before the vote in which he will seek re-election.

The poll was taken before he kicked Djokovic out of the country, a move that was popular among Australians.

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