Australia’s citizens are no longer barred from traveling internationally.
The Australian government announced Wednesday that a ban on people traveling overseas without permission will be lifted, with the country’s border expected to open to skilled workers and international students by the end of the year.
Fully vaccinated Australians will no longer need to obtain an exemption to leave Australia more than 18 months after the country’s international borders were closed, according to a joint statement from the health and home affairs ministries.
The announcement comes as the country’s adult double-dose immunization rate approaches the objective of 80%.
While Australian citizens are now prioritized, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews indicated that if vaccination rates rise, more travel restrictions, including for some non-citizens, will be eased.
“We expect to welcome fully vaccinated skilled employees and international students before the end of the year,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who hinted at the changes earlier this month, said Australia is “very close” to announcing a reciprocal travel bubble with Singapore, which revealed late Tuesday that Australians will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Flights to the city-state by Qantas are expected to resume on November 22.
“We’re working on a timeframe around then,” Morrison told Channel 7 television. “Other visa holders, in addition to Australians returning or travelling to Singapore and returning who are double vaccinated, will be able to come to Australia.”
In reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls on March 20 of last year.
Countless international aircraft have been grounded for nearly 600 days, and international travel has dwindled to a trickle.
Families have been split across continents, tens of thousands of nationals have been stranded abroad, and foreign residents have been unable to see friends or family.
Returning vaccinated residents’ quarantine arrangements will be determined by where they arrive in Australia.
While quarantine for returning passengers has been abolished in Sydney, other Australian states with lower vaccination rates still have strict and costly 14-day hotel quarantine rules.