Closing the borders, should we do it? It is a very sensitive topic and one that many governments don’t want to talk about. After all, the repercussions of borders closures are severe, as millions lose their jobs. It is a very fine line between keeping a balance between the economy and public health. But this is a pandemic, and if we don’t take care of public health we won’t have an economy. So what do we do?
One of the first measures our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, took when this pandemic started was to close our borders to foreigners. He was severely criticised at the time. He didn’t listen to those critics, he knew what he was doing and he had a team of health professionals, led by our Chief Medical Officer, advising him on what was best for Australia.
As a result, we never got the huge numbers of cases, we see in other parts of the world, and our health system have never been overwhelmed.
Closing the borders wasn’t an easy decision, but again, I think no decision made during this pandemic was easy and I really wouldn’t like to be in any Prime Minister’s shoes. But when Scott Morrison closed our borders he also shut down entire sectors, such as tourism and aviation. It was devastating to see airlines grounding their fleets and lots of local tourism businesses going under. But there were other sectors affected, for example, the education sector. Every year, Australia receives thousands of international students from all over the world. Closing the border meant that they were no longer able to come, which translated to a massive loss for universities. But it was the right call, and I think we understood that. If he hasn’t done it, we would be in serious trouble, just like many other countries in the world.
The way forward
Vaccines are finally here. All around the world people are starting to get a vaccine and we moving in the right direction. Although we’re all aware that it won’t happen overnight, and it will take a few years, but we will get there eventually.
The aviation sector has done an amazing job implementing rules that may help governments gain confidence in the sector. A Covid free passport is one of them. Alitalia was one of the first to implement “covid free flights”. Now, almost all airlines embraced the system and this idea of a covid passport.
As I have mentioned so many times, I strongly believe this is the way forward. Tests, vaccines and a passport may be the key to reopen borders and be back to some normality.