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Updated on: Monday, April 06, 2020, 03:24 PM IST

Australian minister urges governments to keep borders open, exempt communications industry from movement restrictions

The governments of Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have closed their borders in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the country, reports xinhua news agency.
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Canberra: An Australian Minister has written to state and territory governments urging them to exempt telecommunications companies, postal services, logistics companies and news organizations from restrictions on movement.

The governments of Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have closed their borders in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 within the country, reports xinhua news agency.

The closure of Queensland's border with New South Wales (NSW) has proven particularly problematic because of large population centers close to the border on either side.

In his letter, Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, said that the operations of those he wants exempt are "critical to the ongoing functioning of the Australian economy and society" during the pandemic.

Federal, state and territory governments were working on a uniform approach to what constitutes an essential service during the crisis.

Dan Lloyd, director of corporate affairs for telecommunications company Vodafone, told the media on Sunday night that listing the industry as essential was an urgent issue.

"We are working closely with the federal and state governments to ensure our maintenance crews are not restricted or delayed from crossing state and territory borders to carry out essential work at our mobile sites," he said.

"To date, our crews haven't experienced any issues, but we would like to see the inclusion of the telecommunications sector in any national declaration of essential services to ensure problems don''t arise in the future."

The development comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia as of Monday was 5,687, with 35 deaths.

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Published on: Monday, April 06, 2020, 03:24 PM IST
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