From November, Australia’s international border will reopen, granting vaccinated citizens and their families long-awaited freedoms.
Since March 2020, Australia has had some of the tightest border controls in the world, including a ban on leaving the country.
Although the policy has been praised for contributing to the Covid reduction, it has also resulted in the contentious separation of families. PM Scott Morrison stated, “It’s time to give Australians their lives back.”
He said people would travel after their state’s vaccination rate reached 80% during a press conference on Friday.
Travel would not immediately be open to foreigners, but the government said it was working “towards welcoming visitors back to our shores.”
People can currently only leave Australia for exceptional reasons such as urgent business or to see a dying family.
Citizens and those with exemptions can enter, although there are strict limits on the number of people entering. Thousands of people have been stuck in other countries as a result of this.
Mr Morrison announced on Friday that Australia’s required 14-day hotel quarantine, which costs A$3,000 (£1,600; $2,100) per traveller, will be phased out.
For vaccinated travellers, it will be replaced with a seven-day home quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers must wait 14 days after being permitted to enter.
Thousands of Australians, both at home and abroad, are anxiously awaiting this announcement. After nearly two years of isolation, it’s no doubt an emotional time for many.
The effectiveness of Australia’s strict border policy, particularly early in the pandemic, has been acknowledged, but the Delta strain has changed everything.
Western Australia and Queensland continue pursuing an elimination strategy, which means they have been the first to seal their borders to the rest of the country.
In New South Wales, Australia’s most populated state, the strategy has changed from elimination to vaccination. All of this will make the logistics of reopening international crossings extremely difficult.
Airlines have already stated that they are not prepared for the increased service levels this reopening will need. And, with so many specifics about restrictions and proof of vaccination still unclear, this may be a headache for border officials as well.