Is the India Quarantine Ban a Racist Double-Standard?

Australian citizens will no longer be allowed to return to Australia from India, as a complete travel ban came into force on Monday. The move even prohibits citizens from arriving and serving 14 days in hotel quarantine.

It is the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that Australian citizens have been legally prohibited from entering their own country. Although justified by Prime Minister Morrison and health officials on the grounds of the risk of coronavirus escaping hotel quarantine, the ban has sparked accusations of a double-standard in the treatment of Indian-Australians.

“Australian citizens stuck or stranded are our moral obligation. They are our people,” said Dr Yadu Singh, President of the Federation of Indian Associations of New South Wales.

Is Ban on Australians Returning from India Racist?

Coronavirus has leaked from hotel quarantine 16 times since November. In the past week, six Australians have returned home only to catch coronavirus in quarantine.

With thanks to Anthony Macali on Twitter.

Morrison and health authorities are tying the leaks to an increase in the number of infected persons coming off flights. The ban, they say, has nothing to do with race and Indian-Australians being treated as less Australian.

The data do show an increase in positive cases recorded on arrival at hotel quarantine since the terrible peak in cases in India over the past 2-3 weeks. There have been 270 positive cases in quarantine in the past fortnight, compared with 199 in the fortnight over Christmas and New Year and 169 over late October and early November.

Of course, there are other reasons for leaks than just high case numbers. As the Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry final report noted, the states were given just days to set up quarantine after Scott Morrison, in usual form, just announced it. The situation obviously favoured a “convenience” approach of sticking travellers into existing hotels rather than purpose-built facilities away from population centres. 

So the question is why the qualitative policy change only – blaming the leaks on new arrivals – occurred between 199 and 270 cases upon arrival per fortnight, where previous increases were attributed to failings of the quarantine system? It certainly seems that for Australian citizens in the UK or US, where per capita Covid-19 infection rates have also been very high, the right to return “home” was considered more sacred.

Follow Christian on Twitter for more news updates.

If you’d like to receive an occasional Free email with more content like this, then sign up today!