Australian PM ignores pleas to reopen border before 2022

Morrison said any plans to relax border rules for vaccinated travellers could be implemented "only when it is safe to do so".

Australia plans to reopen borders to the rest of the world from the middle of 2022 even as the federal budget unveiled last week hopes to fully vaccinate its near 26 million population by the end of this year.

Airlines, tourism operators and universities - reeling from the impact of border bans - have been urging the federal government to fast track the opening of borders.

"We can't keep (COVID-19) out forever ... It will make us sick but won't put us into hospital. Some people may die but it will be way smaller than the flu," Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka was quoted as saying in Australian media on Tuesday.

Morrison described Hrdlicka's comments as "somewhat insensitive".

Australia closed its international borders in March 2020, mostly to non-citizens and permanent residents, helping keep its COVID-19 numbers relatively low at just under 30,000 cases and 910 deaths.

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