Aborigines block access to Uluru, for fear of coronavirus

Uluru Park in Australia, illustration – Rafael Ben Ari / Newscom / SIPA

If you live outside the capital and have a hard time in the summer when we Parisians arrive in your beautiful regions with our scarf sweaters and our quinoa cravings, imagine what the Australian aborigines must feel before the arrival of the tourists from around the world, potentially loaded with coronavirus in front of their sacred rock. As a result of this mistrust, Australia’s famous Uluru National Park was forced to close on Tuesday.

About 30 aborigines living in this remote area of ​​northern territory have prevented dozens of tourists from approaching the entrance to the park, said Glenn Irvine, of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, which manages relations with local communities. . They say they fear the arrival of the coronavirus brought by city dwellers from cities or foreign countries to these remote regions.

Surprise tourists

Residents said they decided to act after being taken aback by the arrival of 43 tourists by plane from Brisbane, in the state of Queensland (East). “We understood that the flight had been canceled,” said Glenn Irvine. When he arrived, “we asked the national park to close,” he explained, and as the park did not, “the locals gathered at its entrance. “

After discussions with local authorities, Uluru Park, renowned for the famous rock formation also known as Ayers Rock, has been closed. More than 395,000 people visited the park between July 2018 and June 2019, according to the Australian authority overseeing the parks.

Increased distrust

Glenn Irvine reported a tacit agreement that tourists, who have stayed nearby, to be screened, and that no groups come from outbreaks. Queensland has recorded a thousand cases of Covid-19 since the start of the epidemic and new contaminations are rare today. The epicenter of the second epidemic wave in Australia is located in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria (South).

But indigenous communities are extremely suspicious, fearing the impact of an epidemic in remote areas, including regions whose populations rely heavily on income from tourism.

Maximum supervision

Tourism in the northern territory is now closely supervised. Measures have eased but visitors from some areas of Australia identified as hotbeds of infection must still complete a 14-day quarantine. Brisbane is on the list.

Victoria has a total of around 12,000 of the 19,000 cases of coronavirus identified since the start of the year across the country. It is also the state which has the most victims, with 147 deaths out of a national total of 232.



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