Australia has announced the reopening of its borders to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders for the first time in almost two years. The scheduled opening date is February 21 2022.
“If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Australia has had some of the world’s strictest border controls throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In March 2020, the government closed the borders. It barred most foreigners from entering the country and put caps on total arrivals to help combat Covid. Some international students and skilled migrants have been permitted to enter the country since last December.
On Monday, Mr. Morrison said those entering Australia when the borders fully reopened would need to provide proof of vaccination: “That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it,” he said.
Unvaccinated travellers who have a medical reason for not being jabbed will still need to apply for a travel exemption and, if successful, will be required to quarantine at a hotel.
Melinda de Boer, 44, from Switzerland, told the BBC that she was finally planning to travel to Melbourne to see her mum, who had breast cancer last year. “Her grandchildren haven’t seen her for nearly three years. We are looking to go in the October or December holidays,” she said.
Ms. De Boer said she was reluctant to book at the moment and was “worried about the airlines and masses of people going.”
In making the announcement, which had been expected, Morrison emphasised the need for travellers to be fully vaccinated and referenced the Novak Djokovic scandal, saying “events earlier in the year should have sent a very clear message to everyone around the world” that Australia requires visitors to be fully vaccinated.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS