Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced that his government will lift the ban on international travel for its citizens in November, reported The Australian.
The 18-month-long ban was considered one of the toughest travel restrictions around the world. Australians were also not permitted to travel without permission.
“It will be time very soon that we will be able to open those international borders again,” Morrison said at a press conference. “That will enable Australians who are fully vaccinated, and Australians and residents of Australia who are overseas, who are fully vaccinated, to be able to travel again.”
Australian states that have reached a 80% vaccination rate will be permitted to allow entry to citizens and permanent residents. This means that restrictions will be lifted in some states sooner than others. Australians will also be able to travel abroad without any restrictions on their destinations.
However, their return will be based on the limit of the number of arrivals allowed into Australia, reported Reuters. Australians returning from other countries, who are vaccinated, will have to undergo a seven-day quarantine. Unvaccinated citizens will need to quarantine for 14 days.
Ahead of the border opening, Australia has also recognised Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India, as well as China’s Sinovac vaccines. This will allow citizens fully vaccinated with these vaccines to enter the country.
Australia also recognises vaccines made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson.
The Australian government is also expected the make further changes to allow foreign travellers to enter the country, according to Reuters.
“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.”
Australia had shut down its border in March last year after which only a limited number of people were allowed to leave and enter the country. The government had also allowed few filmmakers to enter the country to shoot movies and TV shows.
Morrison in his press conference said that his government will start commercial flights for citizens abroad to enter states and territories that had home quarantine facilities.
“I’m going to keep the deal which said, you go and get vaccinated and we’re going to ensure that the many liberties and opportunities that you have will be restored,” he added.
The prime minister also said that this government was working for a quarantine free travel deal with countries such as New Zealand.
Earlier, Morrison had said that all domestic and international borders would be reopened when the countrywide vaccination rate for people aged above 16 reached 80%. This is expected to happen by the end of November, according to Reuters.
However, the outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus had led to authorities imposing a lockdown in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for weeks.
The strict restrictions have enabled the country to limit the spread of the infection. Australia has so far reported 1,07,181 coronavirus cases and only 1,311 deaths since the pandemic first broke out in the country in January last year, according to Johns Hopkins University. The highest daily toll in the country was 59, recorded on September 3, 2020.