The Australian government announced Wednesday that a ban on citizens travelling overseas without permission will be lifted, with the country’s border expected to open to skilled workers and international students by the end of the year.
Fully vaccinated Australians will no longer need to obtain an exemption to leave Australia after more than 18 months of the country’s international borders being closed, according to a joint statement from the health and home affairs ministries.
The announcement comes as the country’s adult double-dose vaccination rate approaches the target of 80%.
While Australian citizens are now prioritised, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews indicated that if vaccination rates rise, more travel restrictions, including for some non-citizens, will be eased.
she said, “Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who hinted at the changes earlier this month, said Australia is “very close” to announcing a reciprocal travel bubble with Singapore, which revealed late Tuesday that Australians will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Flights to the city-state by Qantas are expected to resume on November 22.
Morrison told Channel 7 television, “We’re working to a timetable around about then which will see other visa-holders — in addition to Australians returning or going to Singapore and returning who are double vaccinated — being able to come to Australia.”
In reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls on March 20 of last year.
Countless international airplanes have been grounded for nearly 600 days, and international travel has dwindled to a trickle.
Families have been split across continents, tens of thousands of nationals have been stranded abroad, and foreign residents have been stuck in the country unable to see friends or family.
Returning vaccinated residents’ quarantine arrangements will be determined by their arrival location in Australia.
While Sydney has eliminated quarantine for returning visitors, other Australian jurisdictions with lower vaccination rates still require a 14-day hotel quarantine, which is costly.
– India’s new age travel digital media