Australia's international borders to reopen to fully vaccinated travellers from 21 February

International tourists who are fully vaccinated will soon be able to return to Australia after being blocked from travelling here for almost two years.

Fully vaccinated international tourists will be able to return to Australia later this month.

Fully vaccinated international tourists will be able to return to Australia later this month. Source: AAP

Australia's international borders will be reopened to all fully vaccinated visa holders from 21 February.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced all international visitors, including tourists, would be allowed to return to the country in two weeks.

“Welcoming the world back. I think that's another important milestone that Australia is achieving,” Mr Morrison told reporters. 

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The decision marks another relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions, initially imposed almost two years ago on 20 March, 2020.

Travel restrictions had already been eased for international students, working holidaymaker visa holders and skilled migrants since December last year.

International arrivals will be required to show proof of two vaccine doses or a valid medical reason why they cannot be vaccinated.

The tourism sector has been pushing for certainty around the international border reopening, after being decimated by the impact of the ongoing border closure.   

Tourism & Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmand welcomed the decision, but said the detail remained to be worked through. 

"We're thrilled now have a date that we can give to the rest of the world and say we're open for business and we'd love to see you," she told reporters.

"There will be some issues around the technicalities of this. There's work to be done. It's not as simple as just turning on the tap." 

She said this included marketing campaigns to "aggressively" encourage people to come to Australia. 

“This is now a very competitive global market with every other country in the world looking for those leisured tourists as well, and many of them having the head start on us,” she said.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has also welcomed the move.

"Australia’s reopening to the world signals the next critical step in our management of COVID-19 and positions us to supercharge our economic recovery,"  Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“This move brings to an end 'fortress Australia'. This is the light at the end of the tunnel that small business, tourism operators and the events industry was desperate to see."

State-based quarantine rules will continue to be enforced according to each jurisdiction.

Most states and territories allow quarantine free travel from overseas, apart from Western Australia, which maintains a two-week requirement.

WA's border reopening to the rest of the world has been indefinitely delayed, since Premier Mark McGowan decided to .  



Mr Morrison said health officials had indicated Australia's COVID-19 situation was improving, with pressure on health systems from the spread of Omicron easing.   

"The chief medical officer was able to give us good confidence about that as in the larger states we've already moved past that peak," he said.

Opposition home affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally said while the border reopening would be great to see, a clear plan was needed.

She wants to see guarantees of border officials being able to properly check vaccination statuses, as well as measures for airports to cope with the demand once tourism resumes.

"I think the borders should take into account the health advice and of course, it's important to consider whether or not our hospitals can cope," she told reporters earlier on Monday in Canberra.

"What I'm pointing to are the practical steps that have not been done by this government and the problems that will arise if they don't do the hard work."


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4 min read
Published 7 February 2022 at 2:54pm
By Tom Stayner
Source: SBS News