Australian PM announces reopening of international travel, easing border restrictions
Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the reopening of international travel and easing of border restrictions.
Morrison said that the international border will reopen next month for states that have reached 80 per cent vaccination rates, starting with New South Wales, reported ABC News.
Fully vaccinated Australians and permanent residents arriving in NSW will be able to home quarantine for a week, instead of paying thousands to quarantine at a hotel for a fortnight, pending the success of the state's home quarantine trial. Commercial flights out of Australia will resume for vaccinated Australians.
On March 20 last year Australia introduced some of the world's toughest border restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Strict restrictions were imposed by Australia from travelling overseas without permission for 18-months.
Morrison said the government would consider quarantine-free travel between some countries, such as New Zealand, "when it is safe to do so". "It's time to give Australians their lives back," Morrison said. "We've saved lives. We've saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country."
Travellers must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine to home quarantine, unless they are under 12 or medically exempt, reported ABC News. Meanwhile, unvaccinated travellers will be required to hotel quarantine for a fortnight.
The government will also work with the states to remove travel caps for vaccinated travellers.
COVID-19 Testing is expected to continue to be a part of travel, but the government is looking at using rapid antigen testing as part of the arrangement, reported ABC News.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has advised that the Chinese-made Sinovac and the Indian-made Covishield vaccines would be considered "recognised vaccines" when determining whether an incoming international traveller has been appropriately vaccinated.
The recognition of those vaccines will remove a significant barrier for international students seeking to study in Australia.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and the Janssen vaccine are already recognised in Australia.