Australia is set to reopen its borders once again to a number of visa holders. This comes as a welcome ease to the country’s strict border ban that barred anyone from entering or leaving Australia — including its own citizens.
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced this significant decision on 23 November 2021, calling it an “important step forward”.
These changes will allow certain foreign citizens to enter Australia, without the need to apply for a travel exemption. This includes tourists, skilled workers, and international students.
Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, specified that:
“Eligible visa holders include skilled workers and student cohorts, as well as refugees, humanitarians, temporary and provisional visa holders.”
The announcement also stated that double vaccinated citizens from Japan and South Korea, who hold an Australian ETA, can enter without having to quarantine on arrival.
Due to the individual rules in each state, currently only New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will permit visitors to skip quarantine.
All approved travelers must be fully vaccinated, and show a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 3 days of departure for Australia.
This move comes after an announcement in October 2021 that the country would open its borders to citizens of Singapore, in the “safe travel bubble” scheme. Now Australia has extended this scheme to a number of other countries.
The Australian government estimates that these changes will bring approximately 200,000 travelers to Australia, between December and January.
A Boost for the Australian Economy
Reopening Australia’s borders will be a much-needed boost for the economy, after a tough 18 months of closed borders. The strict travel ban imposed by the government has led to a serious lack of workers in many sectors, drastically affecting the country’s economy.
The prime minister referred to the return of skilled workers and students to Australia as “a major milestone”.
International education contributed a staggering $37.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2019, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. The return of international students will boost the economy significantly.
Australia’s Vaccine Program
The reopening of Australia’s borders follows a successful vaccination program by health authorities. The country has now surpassed 85% for the number of double vaccinated citizens, over the age of 16.
A number of states, including Victoria, New South Wales (NSW), and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have now reached over 90% for double vaccinations. Australia Capital Territory is currently leading, with 95%.
In order to protect its citizens, new arrivals must still follow current COVID-19 travel restrictions by also being double vaccinated.
Reuniting Families After Lockdown
This announcement is especially positive for separated families, who have not been able to visit each other due to the rigid border ban. Even Australian citizens have not been able to leave or enter the country, leaving many families split apart for the last 18 months.
The controversial travel ban has been effective in controlling the spread of coronavirus within Australia, but devastating for many wishing to see their loved ones.
The return of international travel will reunite families across the world, while boosting Australia’s lagging economy.