Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated on Monday that the country’s borders will reopen to vaccinated travellers on February 21, 2022. This means that tourists, business travellers, and other visitors will be able to visit Australia very soon.
Prime Minister Morrison, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews, and Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment, Dan Tehan, said in a joint media statement that Australia’s health system has demonstrated its resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including the recent Omicron wave.
Considering improving health circumstances, including a recent 23 per cent decrease in COVID hospitalizations, the National Security Committee of Cabinet determined today that Australia is ready to move forward with the gradual reopening of the international border.
Non-vaccinated visa holders will still need a valid travel exemption to enter Australia and will be subject to state and territory quarantine rules, according to Morrison’s Australia travel update.
Ever since the start of Australia’s staged international border reopening on November 1, 2021, the country has witnessed about 580,000 arrivals, many of whom came to reconcile with loved ones, work, or study. The Commonwealth is continuing to engage with states and territories to ensure the safe restart of the cruise sector and anticipates more announcements in due course.
The Prime Minister’s travel update would allow fully vaccinated travellers from anywhere in the world to fly to Australia. This means that family members of overseas students, as well as potential international students, will be permitted to visit Australia soon, as long as they are vaccinated.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved the Coronavac (Sinovac), Covishield (AstraZeneca – Serum Institute of India), BBIBP-CorV for people under 60 years old on arrival in Australia (Sinopharm China), Covaxin (Bharat Biotech), and Sputnik V vaccines in Australia (Gamaleya Research Institute).
Citizens, permanent residents, and their families, as well as international students, backpackers, and migrant workers, are currently permitted entry into the country but must provide documentation of having two doses of an approved vaccine. Tourists will be subject to the same rules unless they qualify for a medical exception.
In January, global tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s visa was revoked due to a disagreement over his vaccine exemption status. He was eventually deported and was unable to compete in the Australian Open. The Prime Minister also stated that further reopening of the border would provide a much-needed boost to the country’s tourism industry.
Australia will close its borders in March 2020 to defend itself against a COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, Australians have been banned from leaving, and just a few visitors have been granted entry exemptions.
The restrictions have shattered families, harmed the country’s burgeoning tourism economy, and sparked sometimes heated arguments about Australia’s standing as a modern, open, and outward-looking society.
The move was “greatly applauded” by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The Asia Pacific region has been very cautious in its approach to border restrictions so far but in recent weeks, we have seen growing momentum towards relaxation of travel restrictions – in the Philippines, Thailand, and to some extent New Zealand,” Philip Goh, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Asia Pacific said in a statement.
“We urge other governments in the Asia Pacific to look at similarly further easing their border restrictions so as to enable aviation businesses to accelerate their much-needed recovery and to bring maximum benefits to their economies.”