For the German Simone Toll, the prospect of a life in sunny Australia sounded quite tempting. But the corona pandemic and the Australian isolationist policy have clouded the joy of emigrating. She has not seen her family in Germany since October 2018. “My parents, although they are fully vaccinated, are not allowed to enter. Although I am German, but my regular place of residence is in Australia, I am not allowed to leave the country, ”reports the 31-year-old Youtuber to the FAZ from Perth. Under the Australian Corona regulations, she has to apply for an exemption, but this is repeatedly refused. This is particularly bitter for her because she and her Australian husband had a daughter during the pandemic. "Personally, I'm afraid that my grandparents, who are almost 90,never got to see her great-granddaughter, ”she reports.
Political Correspondent for Southeast Asia.
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Many people in Australia feel like Germans and not just those with foreign passports. Australia closed its borders in March 2020. Since then, nobody has been allowed to enter or leave the country without a permit. Each person entering the country must also be quarantined in a hotel for 14 days and bear the costs of $ 3,000. Places are limited, which is why thousands of Australians have been stranded abroad for months. Australia also prevents its citizens and people like Simone Toll from leaving the country. There are “definitely worse cases” than hers, admits Toll. In Facebook groups, for example, people complain that they cannot say goodbye to dying relatives or that they have been separated from their partners for months.
With 30 percent of Australians having roots abroad, many are affected.
Nevertheless, the country is now sealing itself off even further for fear of the contagious Delta variant.
In fact, almost half of Australians were living under some sort of lockdown this week.
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the number of entries would be cut in half.
At the same time, he announced an increase in return flights for Australians stranded abroad.
But for those affected it seems clear that this will not make it easier for them to enter and leave the country.
"This reduction in international travel is devastating news for the 34,000+ Australians and their families still stranded overseas," said Sophie McNeill of Human Rights Watch.
It looks like Australia is becoming more and more a victim of its own success. For every 25 million inhabitants there are 30,685 proven corona cases and 910 deaths as a result of an infection. However, this result of the de facto zero coronavirus strategy has led to alarm bells ringing even for smaller outbreaks. In Australia, many lived “safely in their own little bladder,” says Simone Toll. At the same time, however, criticism of the "fortress" Australia and its consequences for the people, the economy and society is growing. The government responded to this criticism on Friday by announcing a four-stage plan for the first time, which is intended to show a way out of the pandemic framework of tightened borders, quarantine and lockdowns.
This plan leads to the coronavirus no longer being treated differently from other infectious diseases, Prime Minister Morrison said.
Some commentators reacted skeptically to the announcement, which was still lacking in crucial details.
In particular, according to Morrison, the respective opening steps should take place when vaccination goals have not yet been defined.
But when it comes to vaccinations, Australia lags far behind other industrialized countries.
Only six percent of the population are fully vaccinated, 25 percent have received at least one vaccination.
In this respect, too, success in the fight against the virus has undesirable consequences.
The government had taken its time buying vaccines.
In view of the low risk of infection, the population does not see a great need to be vaccinated.