Sydney: After almost two years, Australia will reopen its international borders for fully vaccinated tourists from February 21.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Monday, ending some of the world’s strictest and longest-running pandemic travel restrictions.
While the international borders have been opened since late 2021, entry has only been allowed for citizens, permanent residents and their families, with it later expanded to international students, backpackers and migrant workers.
Mr Morrison said the move would be a welcome boost to the tourism sector.
“I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to that, and over the next two weeks they’ll get the opportunity both for visitors to be coming and for them to be gearing up to welcome international visitors back to Australia,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia. That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it.”
Australia has nearly 95% of the eligible population aged 16 and over double-vaccinated against the coronavirus and nearly nine million people with more than two doses.
This infographic provides the total number vaccine doses, including daily booster and paediatric doses (children 5-11) administered in Australia 🇦🇺 as of 6 February 2022.
— Australian Government Department of Health (@healthgovau) February 7, 2022
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said visa holders who are not full vaccinated will still require an exemption and will be subject to the relevant state and territory quarantine requirements.
State-based caps on quarantine will also continue, with the caps still being determined by state and territory governments.
Tourism operators had been experiencing a downturn due to the virus and the loss of foreign visitors and had been calling on the government to lift the ban on tourists arriving.
It comes as a decline in cases and contact tracing efforts have led to some jurisdictions scaling back contact tracing apps, with the ACT and Queensland on Monday making changes to their check-in apps.