Australia to reopen borders to vaccinated international travellers

Australia is to reopen its borders to vaccinated international travellers from February 21.

Qantas is to ramp up capacity after two years of strict Covid-19 entry curbs to the country.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, announcing the relaxation of rules for overseas travellers, said: “If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back.”

He said those entering Australia when the borders fully reopened would need to provide proof of vaccination.

“That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it,” Morrison added.

The decision was taken because Australia due to the spread  of the Omicron variant, meaning international travellers do not pose an extra risk.

“The variant is here in Australia. And for those who are coming in who are double vaccinated, they don’t present any greater risk than those who are already here in Australia,” he added.

Vaccinated travellers entering most Australian states need a negative PCR test three days before their flight – or a supervised rapid test 24 hours before departure – to be exempt from any quarantine.

Unvaccinated travellers who have a medical reason for not being jabbed will still need to apply for a travel exemption and will be required to quarantine at a hotel if successful.

Western Australia, which is still pursuing a Covid-zero strategy, is expected to keep in place its arrival caps and 14-day quarantine rules.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the announcement meant Australia was “finally back open for business”.

“This is fantastic news for our people and our customers,” he said.

“There are a lot tourism operators in city centres and the regions that have been doing it really tough over the past couple of years and this will see more tourists come to their town, spend money and get local economies going again.

“We will be looking at our schedules to see if we can restart flights from more international destinations sooner or add capacity to those routes we are already flying. We have the flexibility to ramp up flights in response to demand.”

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said: “With travel to Australia on pause for nearly two years, we are excited to be once again welcoming international travellers back to our shores from 21 February 2022 and sharing with them all the incredible experiences that visitors love – from our world-class natural beauty and wildlife, our food and wine, and our welcoming people.

“Australia has long been a popular outbound destination for British travellers, with more than 700,000 travelling to our country annually pre-Covid, and we are really excited that we will have the opportunity to welcome back visitors from the UK, one of our longest standing international markets, as travel resumes.

“Throughout the pandemic Tourism Australia has maintained an active presence to keep Australia top of mind in the market.

“Now, with the reopening of travel from the UK, Tourism Australia will be working with its trade and distribution partners on dedicated marketing campaigns to urge British travellers to come and enjoy all the incredible tourism experiences that await them in Australia.

“We know our trade and distribution partners have been eagerly awaiting the news of our reopening and we look forward to working with them on campaign activity to convert the pent-up desire for our Australia’s tourism offering into travel bookings and visits.”

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