International flights are being cancelled around the world. Borders are being closed. Most people have safely returned home, but there are also thousands of travellers that are still stuck abroad. For instance, a large number of Australians are still floating around on cruise ships.
What is going on in Australia?
Despite the isolated location of Oceania, the coronavirus has by now also reached Australia. This happened in part because travellers going abroad were not quarantined on time when they arrived back home. The number of coronavirus cases in Australia is still relatively low, in part because the government quickly took concrete steps to isolate and test incoming travellers. One of these measures is also the closing of the borders for non-Australian citizens. Although it is still possible to apply for an Australia visa, it is no longer possible for non-Australians to enter the country, even if they have a visa. Almost 200.000 people have been tested in Australia. It is expected that the number of infections will rise in the coming weeks.
The Costa Victoria
One of the cruise ships on which a large number of Australians are trapped, is the Costa Victoria. This Italian ship carries some 300 Australians and has been at anchor for two weeks now, without the passengers being allowed to return to Australia. This is because cases of coronavirus were discovered on the ship. Countries all over the world are very hesitant when it comes to taking in these passengers. A major problem is that a large number of these travellers are elderly. On top of that some of them also have underlying health issues. The Costa Victoria is currently off anchor at the Italian harbor town Civitavecchia.
Australian travellers not allowed off
Although passengers from neighbouring European countries can return home as normal, Australian travellers first have to go into a mandatory two week quarantine in Italy. Individuals that do not have coronavirus can get off, but they are still placed in quarantine in a special Italian hotel. This will last at least two weeks. Those that test positive for the virus have to remain on board, however. This therefore includes the elderly, despite the fact that they belong to a risk group.
According to some Australians that are forced to stay in the hotel, the circumstances in the hotel are even worse than on the ship. The rooms are supposedly very small, with barely any room to walk. There are also no pillows, some of the taps don’t work and the meals are extremely meager. Many haven’t even been able to wash their clothes since they left the ship.
Australia visa application: is this still possible?
Australia has historically been a popular travel destination for holidays. This is in part because of the simple digital visa system. However, as mentioned above, Australia has closed the borders to foreigners. Only persons with the Australian nationality can still enter the country. This therefore also applies to Brits; according to the new rules, they also are not allowed into the country. Even if they possess a valid visa. However, this doesn’t mean that Australia’s entire visa system has been shut down. Visa applications are still being processed as normal. It is important to remember that the Australia visa is valid for 365 days, or one full year. The hope is that the current measures taken by the Australian government are temporary. If the number of coronavirus cases slowly reduces, the borders might be opened again. This means that if a trip is planned for later this year, an Australia visa can be applied for as normal. The situation in Australia changes rapidly. No guarantees can be given regarding the length of the quarantine measures.
Let op: the information in this news article can be outdated. Before applying for a visa for Australia, read all about the current state of affairs regarding the coronavirus in Australia.