Australia is reopening its border for the first time since the Covid pandemic began. But don’t get your passports ready quite yet, unless you’re a vaccinated Australian citizen or a relative.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the plans to reopen, moving Australia from a strict zero-Covid strategy to a model of living with it. The change is expected to take effect in November.
Since March 2020, Australia has had some of the strictest border restrictions implemented. The measures were praised in their effort to suppress Covid. However, they have also meant that many Australians were separated from their families.
Australians in Australia could only leave the country for exceptional reasons, such as essential work, or visiting a relative who was dying. Australians abroad were permitted, but due to limited capacity on arrival numbers, had to compete for space in quarantine hotels to return.
The mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine cost $2,100 USD per person. It will now be replaced by seven days of home quarantine for vaccinated Australians or permanent residents.
Unvaccinated travelers must still comply with the two-week hotel quarantine.
More than half of Australia is now fully vaccinated, at 55 percent. First dose vaccination rates are approaching 80 percent. Morrison estimated that an 80 percent full vaccination rate will be reached in November, and is a condition for the border to reopen.