Australia is to reopen its borders to vaccinated international travelers on February 21. The move comes almost two years after borders were closed as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
Australia’s pandemic border closures were among the strictest in the world. Lives were disrupted and families separated, but Australia’s international isolation is about to come to an end. Foreign tourists who’ve received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed in. The unvaccinated must apply for an exemption, and, if successful, they’d face mandatory hotel quarantine.
Prime minister Scott Morrison says the rules are clear.
"The condition is you must be double-vaccinated to come to Australia," he said. “That's the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it and it's very important that people understand that requirement if they're seeking to come to Australia. But if you're double-vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia and I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to that, and over the next two weeks they will have the opportunity both for visitors to be coming and for them to be gearing up to welcome international visitors back to Australia."
The prime minister said the high-profile deportation of unvaccinated tennis Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic last month sent the world a “very clear message” about Australia’s position on inoculations.
There has been a gradual dismantling of Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions. Vaccinated international students, some skilled workers and backpackers were allowed into the country last December. Restrictions on travelers from Singapore ended in November.
93% of eligible Australians are double vaccinated and the government believes the time is right to reconnect with the rest of the world.
Australia has recorded 2.3m coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. About 4,200 people have died, according to official data.