For the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia lifts its international travel embargo

In the Aug. 20, 2015, file photo, two people watch from a beach as a Qantas plane taxies on the runway at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia. © Rick Rycroft, AP

The Australian government announced Wednesday that a ban on people traveling overseas without permission would be lifted. The country's border is expected to open to skilled workers and international students by year-end.

According to a joint statement from the health and home affairs ministries, fully vaccinated Australians will no longer need to obtain an exemption to leave Australia more than 18 months after the country's international borders were closed.

The announcement comes as the country's adult double-dose immunization rate approaches the objective of 80%.

While Australian citizens are now prioritized, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews indicated that more travel restrictions, including for some non-citizens, will be eased if vaccination rates rise.

"Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students," she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who hinted at the changes earlier this month, said Australia is "very close" to announcing a reciprocal travel bubble with Singapore, which revealed late Tuesday that Australians would no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival.

Flights to the city-state by Qantas are expected to resume on November 22.

"We're working to a timetable around then," Morrison told Channel 7 television. "Other visa holders, in addition to Australians returning or going to Singapore and returning who are double vaccinated, will be able to come to Australia."

In reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia imposed some of the world's strictest border controls on March 20 of last year.

Countless international aircraft have been grounded for nearly 600 days, and international travel has dwindled to a trickle.

Families have been split across continents, tens of thousands of nationals have been stranded abroad, and foreign residents have not seen friends or family.

Returning vaccinated residents' quarantine arrangements will be determined by where they arrive in Australia.

While quarantine for returning passengers has been abolished in Sydney, other Australian states with lower vaccination rates still have strict and costly 14-day hotel quarantine rules.

Publish : 2021-10-27 11:56:00

Give Your Comments