Australians and tourists alike can now look forward to a silver lining. Come February 21, Australian international borders are set to completely reopen to fully vaccinated travellers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement earlier today, effectively ending one of the world’s longest-running and strictest travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. The condition of entry remains a double vaccination certificate.
“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia,” Mr Morrison said after discussions with the national security cabinet. “If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”
International borders were slammed shut in Australia at the start of the pandemic in 2020, with only a handful of people granted entry into the country since then. Since late November, the country has progressively been opening its borders.
While international border restrictions were partially removed towards the end of 2021, only citizens and permanent residents were allowed into the country. This was later expanded to include international students, backpackers and migrant workers.
All international arrivals will need to show proof of double vaccination or valid medical exemption upon entry. State-based caps on quarantine are set to remain in place. While most states have ditched their zero-covid policy and now allow quarantine free entry for overseas arrivals, Western Australia’s border reopening has been put on hold indefinitely.
The longstanding border restrictions hammered the travel and tourism industry which is now looking at a long-overdue boom.
The welcome announcement comes after a steady decline in covid case numbers across the country. The latest case numbers show 8275 covid infections in Victoria, 7347 in NSW, 4701 in Queensland, 443 in Tasmania and 299 in the ACT.