In a further easing of pandemic restrictions announced Monday, Australia will open its borders to all immunized tourists and business visitors starting Feb. 21.
In March 2020, Australia’s citizens and permanent residents were subjected to among of the world’s strictest travel restrictions in order to prevent them from carrying COVID-19 back home.
International students and skilled migrants were given priority over tourists in being welcomed back to Australia when border restrictions were loosened in November in response to an improving vaccination rate among the Australian population.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday that all vaccinated visa holders would be able to cross the border from February 21.
Visitors must provide confirmation of immunization, according to Morrison. He was referring to Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who was deported by the Australian authorities last month due to a lack of coronavirus vaccination.
“I believe that events earlier this year should have given a very clear message to everyone across the world that that is the condition to enter Australia,” Morrison said.
The instance of Novak Djokovic shows that obtaining a visa through an automated method before traveling to Australia does not ensure that they will fulfill entrance restrictions when they arrive.
Visitors who can provide confirmation of a medical reason for not being able to get vaccinated can request for a travel exemption, according to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.
Visitors to Australia may also have to deal with COVID-19 restrictions in different states if they travel throughout the nation.
Western Australia, which encompasses a third of the island continent, has the tightest state boundary laws.
Only 265 international arrivals are allowed every week, with a 14-day quarantine period.
After two Australians returned from southern Africa on Nov. 27 and tested positive for the omicron strain, Australia postponed its staged border reopening.
The entry of students and skilled professionals has been pushed back two weeks, until December 15.
Tourist companies have been urging the government to encourage tourists to return sooner rather than later. The summer in the southern hemisphere is coming to an end.
Tourist companies are looking forward to rebuilding their markets, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council, the leading industry group representing the nation’s tourism export sector.
“The news that our borders will reopen to all foreign passengers will bring joy to Australian tourism firms,” said the council’s managing director, Peter Shelley.
“For every tourist business across the nation, it’s been a long, hard, and desperate path, and we’ve lost many along the way, but this news will give those who have survived a clear objective to fight for and a starting point for the industry’s reconstruction,” Shelley continued.