With 55% of the country now fully vaccinated and first dose rates approaching 80%, Australia plans to reopen international borders from November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday.
Eighteen months after Australia closed its borders to the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – a move that left thousands of citizens stranded overseas and forced returnees into a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine – the economy began reeling from the subsequent talent crunch. The easing of restrictions now brings hope for recovery.
"The government has been finalising plans so Australian families can be reunited, Australian workers can travel in and out of our country, and we can work towards welcoming tourists back to our shores," Morrison said.
Following plans for reopening, vaccinated Australians and permanent residents would be allowed to quarantine at home – which would essentially remove the cap on the number of people allowed into the country. These travelers would also only be placed in a seven-day quarantine. For those vaccinated with a brand not included in the government's approved list, the 14-day quarantine in a government-managed facility still stands.
Further, for Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated (for example, if they are under 12 or have a medical condition), they will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.
Before the new travel rules are implemented fully, the government will first test home quarantine pilots in New South Wales and South Australia.