From November 1, all fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be free to leave the country without a specific exemption, according to officials, as Australia relaxes coronavirus restrictions in response to rising vaccination rates.
For more than 18 months, Australians have been unable to go overseas without a government waiver, and thousands of fully-vaccinated people living abroad have been unable to return owing to a restriction on immigration designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Many of them are likely to return after quarantine requirements for inoculated tourists were lifted in Sydney and Melbourne on Nov. 1. Other cities, which are mainly virus-free, are anticipated to relax their border restrictions if vaccination rates rise.
“The national strategy is working… (it) is about opening Australia up,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Seven News on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Australia’s medicines authority has provisionally authorized a booster dose of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for persons over the age of 18, after first-dose immunization rates in those over 16 approached 90%.
Once the government receives guidance from the country’s immunization technical advisory panel, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the rollout should begin by Nov. 8.
The decision to relax the travel restriction will take effect next week, after Singapore’s announcement on Tuesday that tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 from Australia will be allowed to enter without quarantine from November 8.
A third wave of illnesses caused by the Delta variety prompted lockdowns in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, which have gradually eased restrictions after meeting their vaccine goals.
With about 164,000 illnesses and 1,669 deaths, Australia has fared better than many comparable nations throughout the Delta epidemics. On Wednesday, Victoria recorded 1,534 new cases, up from 1,510 the day before, while New South Wales reported 304 new cases, up from 282.