Government AffairsExternal travel allowed after 80% herd immunity, but only to skilled migrants and international students.

Australia's borders open, but foreign travellers not welcome until 2022

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Australia abandons Covid-zero plan after 18-month ban on Australians travelling abroad. However, international tourism and business travel remain on the tail end of reopening agenda.
Australia abandons Covid-zero plan after 18-month ban on Australians travelling abroad. However, international tourism and business travel remain on the tail end of reopening agenda.

While Australia's international borders could reopen as soon as 1 November, foreign tourists will still not be allowed in until at least 2022, announced Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 1 October.

The fast-tracked reopening plan next month will allow fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly out of Australia for the first time since March 2020, in what is one of the toughest Covid-19 sanctions imposed by any government.

A seven-day home quarantine trial will be required for returning Australians.

The move comes as Australia reaches the milestone of more than 78% first dose and 55% double dose vaccinations on its National Plan, where each phase will only move forward when vaccination thresholds are met.

In addition, Australia has added two more recognised Covid-19 vaccines to its existing list of four. These are Pfizer (Comirnaty), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Moderna (Spikevax), Covid-19 Vaccine Janssen, Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India).

Two airlines stand ready to carry passengers on their first flights out in some 18 months — Qantas and Jetstar Asia, which had already announced plans to prepare service resumptions between Singapore to Australia in August.

Christmas comes early as international flights restart ahead of schedule, where national carrier Qantas had initially slated for a December resumption.
Christmas comes early as international flights restart ahead of schedule, where national carrier Qantas had initially slated for a December resumption.

Still no foreign travellers, until "it's safe to do so"

However, it is less clear what the rules are for international tourists' return.

"We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year," Morrison said. The AP report added that the next groups given priority into Australia would be the skilled migrants and international students — before tourists. A date for entry was not specified.

Meanwhile, the PM noted in his 1 October address that they are working "towards completely quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so".

Australia and New Zealand briefly launched a quarantine-free travel bubble in April 2021, but a Delta outbreak in June burst all reunions when US air crew brought the contagious variant into Sydney — which has recently just came out from nearly four months of lockdown.

The next potential quarantine-free travel country for Australia could be Singapore, where both destinations' leaders have have previously teased travellers with talk of a travel bubble without making firm commitments.

Singapore Transport Minister S. Iswaran highlighted this keenness to reestablish travel links with Australia in a 11 October interview with Bloomberg.

In its most significant reopening move yet, Singapore last week launched a total of 11 destinations to its rapidly growing Vaccinated Travel Lanes — and it appears Australia, New Zealand and Japan are next.

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