Australia to reopen borders to tourists on February 21, nearly two years after closing
07 February, 2022
After an almost two-year closure, Australia will finally reopen to tourists again later this month.
From February 21, vaccinated visitors will be able to travel Down Under as the country welcomes foreigners and eases border restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the news at a media briefing in Canberra on Monday.
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“If you're double-vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia,” he said. It's the first time that tourists will have been able to visit since Australia shut its borders inMarch 2020, at the onset of the global pandemic. Tourists must have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine for travel, with no rules in place for booster shots at this stage.
It is likely that negative PCR tests will also be required for overseas visitors, as most domestic travellers in Australia need the same no more than three days before flights to other states to be exempt from quarantine procedures.
Qantas, Australia's flag carrier, previously announced that it would only allow vaccinated travellers to fly on the airline.
Visa holders who have not received a Covid-19 vaccination will need exemption to enter the country and must follow any state quarantine requirements on arrival.
Authorities at Brisbane Airport in Queensland are “ecstatic at today’s announcement that international borders will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers and tourists”, said a statement from Brisbane Airport Corporation.
Tourists hoping to visit Western Australia may need to wait a little longer to travel.
The territory, home to Perth and famed for its sprawling Outback, has already delayed its domestic border reopening and kept 14-day quarantine guidelines in place, a rule that is likely to prevent most international tourists from entering the state from overseas.
The news is the latest development in what has been a slow and steady reopening in Australia.
Its borders remained tightly closed for 20 months, before reopening in November 2021 for quarantine-free travel for citizens, permanent residents and their families. In December, it opened to fully vaccinated international students, skilled migrants and backpackers with Working Holiday visas.
The new February 21 reopening date is good news for Australia's tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the drop in revenue from overseas visitors and domestic border closures.
The nation recently made headlines after tennis ace Novak Djokovic's hopes for a Grand Slam title were dashed when a court upheld the government's decision to cancel his visa over his unvaccinated status.
Rapper Kanye West, who recently changed his name to Ye, has also been warned that he must be vaccinated ahead of a proposed concert in Sydney next month.
Tourism Australia, the country's official tourism board, has been championing vaccinations to restart travel. The agency has been running a Get Vaccinated campaign, which encourages people to take the Covid-19 vaccine, alongside the hashtag #itsourbestshotfortravel.