Australia reopens borders to tourists nearly after two years
The country earned the nickname ‘Fortress Australia’ following announcing its decision on travel ban, which not only imposed a strict cap on international arrivals but also barred citizens from going overseas
The move comes nearly two years after it first closed its international borders to slow the spread of COVID-19, and several months after beginning a gradual reopening that allowed certain tourists and foreign workers to enter the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted at a news conference that Australia has progressively opened its borders through programs with New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, and also began welcoming international students and economic migrants late last year. That welcome will soon be extended to visa holders and international tourists, on one condition.
“The condition is, you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia,” Morrison said. “That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it.”
He added that quarantine requirements and cap arrangements on arrivals will continue, and are up to state governments to alter as they see fit.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said that visa holders who are not fully vaccinated will still require a travel exemption to enter and will be subject to relevant state and territory quarantine requirements upon arrival. They also will need to provide proof that there is a medical reason they can’t be vaccinated, she added.
Officials acknowledged that they are seeking to balance public health with the country’s economic recovery. The return of international travel will be a boon to Australia’s struggling tourism industry, which has been largely reliant on domestic travelers.
“Australians have stepped up and traveled when they can, but international tourists will be welcome relief,” Andrews said.
The Business Council of Australia praised the decision in a statement as “the light at the end of the tunnel” for small businesses, tourism operators and the events industry. But it wasn’t entirely celebratory, noting that the move doesn’t apply to the entire country.
Western Australia is the last state with a COVID-zero approach to the pandemic, as NPR has reported, with strict rules and border closings keeping cases relatively low.
Australia as a whole has seen a drop in COVID-19 cases since they hit their peak in early January. About 80% of its population is fully vaccinated.
You need proof of vaccination
For travel into and out of Australia, travellers must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Travelling out of Australia
Vaccinated travellers no longer need an exemption to travel out of the country.
Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD)
All passengers arriving by air into Australia should complete the Digital Passenger Declaration, unless they are flight crew. You can start a DPD seven days before your flight to Australia, but you can only submit a DPD within 72 hours before your departure. This is because you must provide your health information and declaration within 72 hours before your flight. The DPD requests details that are considered critical health information. Passengers must provide evidence that the critical health information was completed before boarding the aircraft. This is an enforceable requirement. A person who fails to comply with the requirement may be liable to a civil penalty (fine) of 30 penalty units (currently $6,660 AUD). This is set out in section 46 of the Biosecurity Act 2015. Passengers who do not make the declaration before they board their flight may be delayed when arriving in Australia.
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