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Who’s being allowed to leave Australia during COVID? FOI data show it is murky and arbitrary

Rick Rycroft/AP

Who’s being allowed to leave Australia during COVID? FOI data show it is murky and arbitrary

Rick Rycroft/AP

Who’s being allowed to leave Australia during COVID? FOI data show it is murky and arbitrary

Rick Rycroft/AP

Who’s being allowed to leave Australia during COVID? FOI data show it is murky and arbitrary

Rick Rycroft/AP

People who usually live overseas (as well as New Zealanders who ordinarily live here), aircraft crew or maintenance staff, freight workers, those who have “essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters”, those travelling on official government business, and those travelling directly to New Zealand don't need permission

Rick Rycroft/AP

Regina Jefferies, UNSW and Jane McAdam, UNSW

With outbreaks of COVID-19 in most states and territories and low rates of vaccination, concerns have arisen again about who is being permitted to exit (and re-enter) the country.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan, for instance, said there should be stricter measures for people wanting to leave Australia “while there’s a pandemic running wild around the world because inevitably they want to come back”, posing a health risk to the community.

Questions have also been raised about where travellers are being permitted to go, and for what reasons.

Even though we are more than a year into the pandemic, the Commonwealth’s general prohibition on citizens and permanent residents leaving Australia remains in effect. Despite the passage of time and the increasingly widespread availability of vaccines, Australia is among a small number of countries that continues to rely on border restrictions as the primary pandemic response.

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