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Australia to reopen to vaccinated travellers from 21 February

Travel ban lifts for all vaccinated visa holders

Helen Coffey
Monday 07 February 2022 09:00 GMT
Australia to open borders to vaccinated travellers

Australia will lift its strict travel ban for all vaccinated tourists and business travellers from 21 February, the prime minister has confirmed.

Scott Morrison announced the move on Monday after he and senior ministers agreed the country’s borders should be reopened to all double-jabbed visa holders.

“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 said 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.”

Travellers who have a legitimate medical reason for not being vaccinated can apply for a travel exemption, according to home affairs minister Karen Andrews.

The move comes almost two years after Australia first imposed a near total ban on international travel to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The country has been gradually allowing foreign visitors back in a phased reopening: international students, skilled workers and those with Working Holiday Maker visas (WHMs) have been permitted since 15 December.

Tourism Australia has even launched a promotion aimed at luring long-stay working holidaymakers to the country.

Anyone who arrives before 19 April 2022 gets their A$495 (£265) Working Holiday Maker visa fee refunded.

The campaign is aimed at young people from the UK, Ireland and five other countries.

The exception is the state of Western Australia, which has not followed suit and still has a stringent travel ban in place.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, cancelled the planned reopening for eligible visa holders on 5 February, saying that to allow in outsiders before boosters had been rolled out across the state would be “reckless and irresponsible”.

Australia’s beleaguered tourism industry has welcomed the news of the planned reopening for the rest of the country.

Tourism & Transport Forum chief executive, Margy Osmond, said the sector was “thrilled”.

However, she added that “there will be some issues around the technicalities of this. There’s work to be done. It’s not as simple as just turning on the tap.”

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